Beasties' bedrooms

Gaming Editor Errol Kerr peeks into the bedrooms of Nature’s various beasts

Errol Kerr
13th February 2017

It’s the week of Valentine’s Day, so what better way to celebrate this than copious amounts of sex? Or, at least, talking about it. If you think humans are filth, you’ve seen nothing yet…

Unbelievably, looking into things made me realise that sex between animals, and sex between humans, can sometimes have incredibly similar habits. Much like humans, bonobos have a lot of sex. And I mean, a lot of sex. Sex works as a general societal bond between groups of bonobos, with both heterosexual and non-heterosexual encounters and relationships. Again, much like humans, bonobos have a habit of resolving conflict between individuals through gifts of food or sexual favours. Again, much like humans, it works most of the time in defusing difficult situations. It’s strange to see such familiar, almost human-like behaviour, despite it being in some of our closest relatives.

“If you think humans are filth, you’ve seen nothing yet…”

On the upside, at least it doesn’t involve death. Mostly. Death and sex has an even more prominent link within various species, as oftentimes either the male becomes useless post-copulation, or the male within more intelligent species gets sexually frustrated. Whilst knowledge of the black widow spider’s post-mating murder of the male spider involved is well-known, bottlenose dolphins bumping one another off because they’re sexually frustrated is far less so. The attackers, predominantly young males, tend to ‘play’ with their targets, and scientists believe the reason for this is that younger males are unable to compete with older males and are taking out their sexual frustrations – violently. Who knew we could tie dolphins to mens’ rights activists?

Honey bees, too, revolve certain elements of their sex lives around death. Male honey-bees have a singular purpose – mating with queen honey-bees. Honey-bee sex occurs in mid air, hovering like some kind of insect mile-high club, before the male proceeds to ejaculate, the force of said act rupturing the tip of its penis as it violently explodes from his body, leaving said penis tip inside of the queen as the male falls to its death. In one flight, a queen honey-bee is likely to mate with around ten to twelve males, killing all of them in the process, and the sperm left by each bee’s respective exploding penis tip to fertilise every single one of the million eggs that she will lay over the course of her lifetime.

If you’ve ever thought going on the pull is a less-than-favourable way of getting laid, try being a porcupine. Their trick? Males urinate on the female before sex. I know that some people might be into this – rumour has it a certain new President might be a fan – however, the male porcupine sprays the female from head to feet in urine prior to sex, and the reaction dictates whether the female porcupine will reciprocate sex – should the female not object, they can get straight to it, but should the female start, you know, either shouting and screaming, or more likely, just run off, it’s unlikely that the male porcupine is going to be getting any this time round. I mean, that’s not too bad a way to judge it in the animal kingdom, I suppose.

“Males urinate on the female before sex. I know that some people might be into this, rumour has it a certain new President might be a fan”

A personal favourite, however, is the anglerfish’s really uncomfortable parasitic sex. The female anglerfish is large, and is the most recognisable, with a huge mouth and the glowing lure on its head. However the male is smaller and weaker, and is incapable of either defending itself or luring prey. Therefore, when mating with a female anglerfish, they proceed to fuse with it. Physically fuse with the female anglerfish. From this point onwards, their relationship becomes one whereby the female anglerfish provides sustenance through the food she consumes, an in return, the male anglerfish provides a stable supply of sperm so long as it’s alive. Which, as it goes, doesn’t sound like the best relationship habit, and I’d suggest not becoming a parasitic organism to get your significant other pregnant.

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