Science & Sex!
By A Real Person on June 15, 2010
Well non-human animal sexual behavior – but don’t worry, a column about the science of human sexual behavior is definitely in the works. (It will be yet another entry that I’ll warn my Dad not to read)
Now – onto the science of animal sex! It’s pretty crazy, so strap in.
Autoeroticism aka Spanking The Monkey, Flogging The Dolphin, Beating the Bishop, Goosing the Gherkin, etc (Please leave your favorite euphemisms in the comment section)
Masturbation has been observed* in both males and females of many different species (the list is way too long to put on here). A few creative ones: Some species of primates, sheep, kangaroos and goats can perform auto-fellatio (yep, on themselves), some birds simulate sex with patches of grass, porcupines and many primates use sticks and other inanimate objects as “ahem” marital aids. Bottlenose dolphins are well known for their interesting sexual behavior (See below: Coercive Sex). I have a Marine Biologist friend that works with bottlenose dolphins and she told me that one of their dolphins would “lie” against the tank jets and masturbate all day and they’d have to eventually poke it with a pool skimmer to get it to exercise or eat.
* Wikipedia, the helpful little informer that it is, even provides YouTube links to videos of animals masturbating. Needless to say – click at your own risk.
[via Bruce Bagemihl: Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity. St. Martin’s Press, 1999.]
Sexual cannibalism is when the female eats and kills the male during or after sex. It has been observed in species of spiders, crustaceans and insects. The male mantis in the Mantis religiosa species has to have its head removed in order to ejaculate (It feels like a lot of these facts should be followed by a drum hit). Scientists have been unable to establish whether or not the males are aware of their fate when they start – poor chaps.
[via The American Naturalist]
What a horrible cartoon our parents let us watch. Unlike Pépe Le Pew (the premise of which was, “What if rape was kinda cute and French?”), skunks have not been observed participating in coercive sex. Some species that do, however, are various primates and bottlenose dolphins. It has been well documented that bottlenose dolphins form male alliances with each other to “herd” females for months at a time and eventually violently gang rape them. Dolphins also sometimes try to have sex with humans! Someone, please name your band Raped By Dolphins – the domain name is available.
Certain species of penguins practice a form of prostitution! Waaaa? Apparently the females will trade sexual favors for rocks to build their nests. Isn’t that the plot for the porn parody of Happy Feet?
When I heard about this from my Biology major friends in college, I almost dropped my entire schedule just so I could take Zoology and learn about it. Penis Fencing – what a magnificent, hilarious phrase. Anyway, onto the science behind it. Certain species of hermaphroditic flatworms engage in this mating behavior, which involves a violent battle where the flatworms fence with their spiked two-headed penises. The winner is the flatworm who successfully pierces the skin of the others penis, injecting his genetic material and thereby becoming the “father”.
Now I certainly didn’t come close to covering everything about the sexual behavior of animals, (it would take wayyyy too long) so I encourage all of you to spend some time reading this Wikipedia entry titled “Animal Sexual Behavior” because it’s fascinating – well if you’re fascinated by science (or sex). Also, Green Porno is a great series of short films created by and starring Isabella Rossellini, about how insects have sex. They are hilarious, creative, bizarre and truly informative (but also weirdly NSFW – even in puppet form, sex is sex).
Have fun! This kind of stuff makes for great nerd cocktail party banter! =)