Category Archives: gender bending

“The Cock is a Bird that Can Tell Time”

 

Copyright: Museum Meermanno, MMW, 10 B 25, Folio 36v

You cannot blame the author for the sheer volume of noteworthy cocks in the world. She is perfectly aware that she has already written about the Cock of Dawn, but that was from the Chinese tradition, and the author reserves the right to differentiate between Chinese and Roman cocks. Ahem. In any case, were you to blame anyone for the next double entendre, dear readers, it would have to be Pliny the Elder, who writes that cocks “were designed by nature to announce the dawn; by singing they awaken men.” Indeed.

They are also, he avers, quite the little oracles: omens and auspices can be read in the behavior of cocks. Indeed. The author once knew a man who swore he could predict the weather with his. True story.

Advertisements

Leave a comment

Filed under folklore, gender bending, human behavior, medieval, rated NC17

Banana Slug: “hard” life.

 

To paraphrase Brittney Spears, this banana slug is not that innocent

To paraphrase Brittney Spears, this banana slug is "not that innocent"

Beloved by alumni of UC Santa Cruz, banana slugs seem to have a pretty good thing going. Sure, they’re slow and eat detritus on the forest floor. But they’re beloved.

 …Just, you know, not by each other. In fact, as one intrepid UCSC PhD candidate put it, slugs

are constantly in an evolutionary arms race where males try to manipulate females into doing what they want them to do (for example, NOT mate with a new male) and females are constantly trying to prevent males from manipulating them.

 This is all a very messy—and uncomfortably familiar—business.  But if, dear readers, you are thinking you have caught the author in a gaffe, and that that banana slugs have developed an interesting solution to the battle of the sexes by evolving into hermaphrodites, problem solved, no muss no fuss… well then you are sadly mistaken. Because as you are by now perfectly aware, the end of the story is almost never the end of the story.

 And Banana slugs are not the nice, neat, nonexistent Barbie-genitalia sporting spontaneous generators we might like to imagine in our PG science textbooks. No, indeed. In fact, slugs are Simultaneous hermaphrodites, which means that they have both male and female primary sex characteristics. And boy, do they ever: an eight-inch slug can have an eight-inch long penis.  

Some of the male readers in the audience are doing some fast math and a little creative visualization in their mirrors, but don’t get overly excited, boys. Because even if the idea that the slugs mutually penetrate souds like a pretty good deal to you, you might be less excited to learn that sometimes a slug will also chew it’s mates member off after the deed is done.

 Chew it right on off. It’s called apophallation. And no, it doesn’t grow back.

Leave a comment

Filed under academia, backyard fauna, gender bending, Phobia-inducing, rated NC17, the strange and the beautiful, Uncategorized

The life of the leaf-cutter ant: miss lonelyhearts OR sapphic smithii?

 

Leaf-cutter ants, or so they say, are all female. According to a National Geographic article, these ladies “thrive without sex of any kind—ever.”  As evidence of this essential sexlessness, scientists cite the fact that leafcutters have evolved to the point that they reproduce only when queens clone themselves.

Indeed,  one author of the study explains  that the (typically muscular) reproductive organ of the female leafcutter ant (M. smithii)  “has evolved into a ‘sort of a ghost of an organ at this point,'” and that no male of the species has ever been found. Were a male “theoretically to appear somewhere, we’re not sure they could mate any more,” she said.

The author of BV would like to offer a few observations:

1) Some among us would probably chuckle, quipping  that it will be a fine world when human females develop the same ability.

2) But others- the more sexually driven, certainly- would retort that a life “without sex of any kind– ever”   was not nearly worth the benefit of a life without fighting for the remote or the correct arrangement of the toilet seat.

3) And there the debate might end, with the simple conclusion of “I’m glad I’m not an ant” or “I wish I were an ant,”  but for the third group- the more flexible thinkers and those who swing that way- who might question the scientists’ assumption that the lack of males (and even of internal reproductive organs)  neccesarily means a “lack of any kind of sex-ever.”  

Rather denotes a lack of creativity, from a certain standpoint…

Leave a comment

Filed under backyard fauna, gender bending, human behavior, the strange and the beautiful, Uncategorized

Sharks: Sisters are doing it for themselves

       scalloped_hammerhead_shark_465x310             

Ladies, listen up: While many of us of slightly-less-than a certain age have started reaching our “scary age”s  and have taken to searching the web for ways to delay (or defeat) the tick-tick-icking of our biological clocks, a few select  members of  superorder Selachimorpha have taken matters into their own hands: a quick search of National Geographic’sarchives generates no fewer than 742 hits on “virgin births” in the animal world. two of note occured in sharks.

In October of 2008, a female blacktip shark in Virginia was confirmed to have successfully committed parthenogenesis– a process by which females of some species can produce young without the sticky contribution and equally sticky commitment issues of males.  

Lest you women out there feel too much jealous animosity towards “Tidbit” (the female blacktip in question), you should also know that she died on the physician’s table during a routine physical exam. It was during the subsequent necropsy that scientists discovered that she was carryng a near-term shark pup, as there had been no previous indication of gestation.  Yes, you read right: she managed to get pregnant on her own and didn’t even have to worry about stretch marks. But then she died.

The first time scientists had witnessed parthenogenesis amongst sharks was at a Nebraska zoo in 2001, when a baby hammerhead was born to one of three possible mothers in the shark tank, none of which had access to males. Sadly, despite the successful full-term birth, the baby hammerhead (see photo, below) was killed within hours by a stingray cohabiting the tank.

The author of BV submits that there is something fishy going on:  these “virgin births” seem to end only in tragedy… perhaps it should be a lesson to us all… 


R.I.P., little shark: this baby hammer head was the result of a virgin birth and died tragically young, giving new meaning to the term "jesus fish."

R.I.P., little shark: this baby hammer head was the result of a virgin birth and died tragically young, giving new meaning to the term "jesus fish."

* Legal disclaimer: the author of B.V. in no way means to insinuate that this fish is actually Jesus, that its fate is related to or sheds light on the Christain belief system, or even that the joke is particularly funny.  Any complaints should be directed to  Rush Limbaugh .**

**Legal disclaimer: The author of B.V. does not claim any affiliation, topical, personal, creative, contractual, or otherwise, with  Mr. Limbaugh or his  production company, but is sure he’d love to hear from you.

Leave a comment

Filed under baby animals, endangered species, gender bending, marine life, Phobia-inducing, the strange and the beautiful, Uncategorized

Emu: summer lovin’ happens so fast

this emu is already looking for another mate

this emu is already looking for another mate

 Any number of men with whom the author of BV is aquainted might feel a twinge of envy when they learn of the prodigious attributes of the male Dromaius novaehollandiae; during breeding season, males experience an increase in luteinizing hormone and testosterone. The result? Their testicles double in size, and the birds switch from boxers to briefs.

But in one of mother nature’s canny twists, it is the males who are  saddled with the biological clock. At first, the trade-off might not seem so bad:  the pair mates every day, and the female is still responsible for laying the very large, thick-shelled, dark-green eggs.  

Yet the tide soon turns: the male, brain addled by regular sex with a willing mate,  turns broody after his mate starts laying, loses his apetite, and settles in to incubate the eggs before the laying period is even finished. From the moment he first settles down on those eggs, he will not eat, drink or shit for eight weeks while the eggs incubate.  He loses weight, surviving on stored body-fat and any stray drops of morning dew that he can reach from the nest.

This is because infidelity is widespread amongst  emu, and once the male starts brooding, the female  starts looking for greener pastures, refusing  to bring her erstwhile schmoopy  a beer, make him a sandwich, or tend to his swollen testicles, preferring to sow her wild oats with other, more mobile males. 

To be fair, some females stand by their man, defending  the nest until the chicks start to hatch, but most of the shameless hussies leave to nest again;  for  a female Emu, a good summer fling may mean multiple nests with multiple mates.

Leave a comment

Filed under gender bending, the strange and the beautiful, Uncategorized