A couple of months ago, the Twitter hashtag #JunkOff got biologists to post photos that displayed the extravagant weirdness of plant and animal genitalia. Yesterday, evolutionary geneticist Tom Houslay dared them to write about what animals actually do with their junk.
And if there’s one thing I know from years of Biology department picnics, it’s how biologists love to talk about their favorite animals’ bizarre sexual habits. Over the course of the day, the thread was a master class in animal sexual behaviors, covering habits that made flatworm penis jousting or fruit bat cunnilingus seem tame. Like the way male fig wasps mate through a tiny hole in the wall of the fig (they’re both inside the fruit, but he’s outside her brood chamber, and she’s inside).
Or how male anglerfish fuse to the first female they find, becoming little more than a sac of testes that she can use as needed.
Or the traumatic hypodermic insemination habits of bedbugs.
Or the way katydids handcuff their genitals together as they copulate.
Or the insects that offer up their wings to their mates as a meal as they screw.
Or the butterflies with vaginas that chew.
The lengths to which some animals will go to keep their mates to themselves also impresses.
And so does the sheer stamina and single-mindedness of some animals, which may breed to exhaustion, or in the case of the antechinus, physical disintegration.
You can find even more ways that animals are making the next generation at #HumpOff.
UPDATE: Correction added to fig wasp reproductive habits: they’re both inside the fig, but she’s in a brood chamber and he’s outside it.
Top image from pakasuchus via Twitter.
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