How to do it like they do on the Discovery Channel
Long-term readers of this blog will know that this isn’t the place to come for a Valentine’s Gift Guide (The Vagenda has a particularly chilling one though).
I agree with Tim Dowling: ’14 February is amateur night‘. Although don’t think that I’m entirely hard-hearted. I did, in fact, ask Herbert to pick himself up a Valentine’s card while he was at the shops yesterday, but for some reason he declined. I would have given him the money, too.
So instead, I’m offering you ten bizarre facts about animal sex. Because I know you love that sort of thing, dear reader.
1. Sea slugs have a detachable penis, which they shed after sex. But fear not, they can grow a new one after just 24 hours (they keep a spare coiled up inside them).
2. An alligator’s penis is permanently erect, and shoots in and out with the help of a bungee.
3. Hummingbirds do pretty much everything mid-air except have sex. It’s one of the rare moments that they land. It only lasts four seconds, though.
4. Palaeontologists believe that dinosaurs mated by ‘cloacal kiss’ - a cloaca being an organ that can urinate, defecate AND be a sexual opening. No penis was needed for this operation, but we don’t know whether they had penises or not. If a T Rex did have a penis, it would have been 12 feet long.
5. Rabbit sex is nothing spectacular – it lasts only 40 seconds – but what’s impressive is that female rabbits ovulate in response to sex. Because of this, they’re always fertile, and so one rabbit can produce 1,000 offspring over her lifetime.
6. Dragonflies have two sets of sex organs. Before sex, the male self-inseminates, and then grasps the female with spiny claspers that often leave her with holes in the head. However, if the female gets a chance, she will eat the male, which is probably why dragonflies mate in that attractive heart-shape you see on Valentine’s cards: to stay alive.
7. Squid sex involves the male hanging upside down off the female, and injecting capsules containing millions of sperm into her muscle tissue. Scientists have only recently learned that this takes ages.
8. Orchids pollenate by promising sex to bees: they mimic the smell, appearance and tactile experience of a female bee.
9. Shark sex is so violent that, come mating season, female nurse sharks stay in shallow waters, keeping their reproductive openings pressed against the ground. Scientists don’t like to talk about this, because they fear it will make sharks look even nastier than they already do.
10. Bonobos are famous for their randy behaviour, and, like us, have sex for pleasure as well as reproduction. They make love not war, using sex to heal social rifts.