Tag Archives: sex

Tungara frog: foamy little freaks

It is a biological truth that in most cases of human canoodling some modest amount of various and sundry bodily fluids are produced. (Indeed, many female humans in the author’s aquaintence have had occasion to note that some male specimen seem to produce excessive saliva when mating rituals such as “necking” are undertaken. What is with that, anyway?)

Well, ladies and gentlemen, imagine your horror should you find that your mate had the habits of Engystomops pustulosus (formerly known as Physalaemus pustulosus.) When mating, the eager male frog positions himself atop the female and starts to pulse rhythmically (not to say monotonously, though some lady frogs might complain on that account). As a result, the female  releases a foam producing solvent which the male’s gyrations froths up into a giant, floating foam nest that protects the fertilized eggs “from dehydration, sunlight, temperature, and potential pathogens until the tadpoles hatch.”

Very creative. And very… well, unsavory, frankly. But if one is a Tungara frog, one might find such foamy emmissions quite provocative.  And the author suspects that should she look hard enough, she would find internet porn for that.

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“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.

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Sea krait: love machine of the underwater world

If you are like the author, dear readers, you were inordinately excited by the release of the first installment of the “Life” series, a follow-up to “Planet Earth,” which aired on the  Discovery channel and its affiliates this sunday. And if you know the author at all (at all, I say), the three of you who read with any regularity (ahem) would immediately have recognized that the sea krait was destined to be the newest addition to the annals of BV.

Because it is impossible to ignore the single most prominent feature of these Hydrophiidae  : sea kraits Do. It. All. Day. Long. In more scientific terms, they “copulate. prodigiously. diurnally.” During which time the much smaller male is unable to disengage.

You read it right, dear readers. “Unable to disengage.”

No female sea kraits were available for comment (or their native reticence prevented them from kissing and telling), but we might imagine that this unique (ahem) situation has its benefits and its drawbacks:

 *First: the male is unable to claim fatigue and roll over before he gets the job done.  BUT:

*this leaves the female no option of… shall we say creative vocalization and a speedy retreat. NEVERTHELESS:

*there is no need for the female to long for just a bit more post-coital cuddling, AND

* she has no need to wonder if he’s going to call again. After all, dear readers, she  knew he was a snake when she picked him up.

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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.

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No, It’s not a Typo; It’s the “Cock” of Dawn.

Ladies and gentlemen, we have  Chinese folklore to thank for next entry: the celestial cock, aka the “cock of dawn.”

<< The author respects all cultures and will not resort to infantile murrmerings about the word “cock”. But, dear readers, it’s gonna be difficult.>>

The Cock of Dawn, or so it is said, is a “magnificent golden three-legged cock” <<ahem>>.  According to myth,  he lives in the mile-high Fu-Sang tree in the Land of Sunrise.  It is believed that he is the ancestor of all worldly cocks <<ah-ahem>>, that he crows exactly three times a day (to mark the sunrise, zenith, and sunset) and that his red comb signifies the sunrise.

According to a legend  describing the conjunction of yin and yang, the God of the immortals (Tung-hua Ti-chun) gave this bird to a lucky fellow named Shen-i, who rode the back of the celestial cock <<oh, come now, we are all mature adults here, lets be serious>> to the heat of the midday sun, where, it is said, he attained perfect happiness.  Just him and his golden three-legged cock. (Until he set up regular visits with his wife, who was living over on the moon at the time.)

…In all seriousness,  dear readers, it is a lovely story and we should not be swayed from its import by our puritanical, repressed, juvenile obsession with naughty bits. And yet… one cannot help but wonder whether, on the occasional lonely night on the moon, Shen-i’s wife didn’t long for a little celestial cock of her own.

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Catobelpas: Head of an Ox, Tail of a snake, Bad dinner date.

To all of the singletons reading this entry: the author of BV would like to caution you about the Catobelpas, for according to Pliny the Elder, this next member of our medieval bestiary series, which is  “of moderate size and inactive with the rest of its limbs, only with a very heavy head which it carries with difficulty and it always hanging down to the ground” is also “deadly to humans, as all who see its eyes expire immediately.”

Others, like Edward Topsell, the 14th century author of The Historie of Foure-Footed Beastes, rejected notions that the beastie’s breath was the actual culprit, writing that despte its diet of poisonous herbs, “it is more plausible, that like the cockatrice, he killeth by seeing, than by the breath of his mouth, which is not competible to any other beasts in the world.”

Charming.

It is perhaps not terribly unfortunate that the Catobelpas has gone the way of the DoDo.

…And yet… if the author of BV’s  experience in the dating world is any indication,  there may be a significant subgroup of human descendants of the Catobelpas: individuals who slouch, hang their heads, and eat poisonouos herbs (read: garlic) at the dinner table are in no short supply in today’s dangerous dating tundra.

So,  readers: be forewarned! Should you suspect your dinner companion of being just such a shaggy-haired specimen, then when s/he at long last raises his heavy head and gaze at you with his bloodshot eyes, and ask if you want to split the bill, Do. Not. Make. Eye contact.   

Pay for your food and run.

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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…

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Chimpanzees: Will F*%@ for Meat

Chimps- mother nature's "working girls"

Chimps- mother nature's "working girls"

The BBC reported yesterday that a strange new facet of primate behavior has been documented amongst chimpanzees living in the Tai forest reserve, in Ivory Coast: the females will get down more often with males who share their grub.  Cristina Gomes, from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany, reports that this is a win-win proposition for the primates. “By sharing,” she claims,  “the males increase the number of times they mate, and the females increase their intake of calories.”  The author of BV is unsurprised that the “meat for sex hypothesis” (its real name) has been confirmed: the chimps’ priorities seem familiar enough from the human dating world, though *some* human females prefer shiny baubles to hanks of raw meat.

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Hercules Beetle: natural prey of the Stymphalian birds?*

behold the strongest insect on earth

behold the strongest insect on earth (and in the background, the much smaller flower beetle).

 The Hercules beetle (Dynastes hercules) is perhaps the most immediately recognizable of the rhinoceros beetles; it’s propensity for epic battles and family tragedies in the Grecian vein, though less well known, is among the beetle’s most prominent characteristics. 

Male beetles, for instance,  often use their prominent horns to fight for the right to mate with a comely female. The outcomes of these battles are determined by the whims of the gods, and may inflict devastating psychosocial effects which can fatally disrupt the entire Dynastes  family.

The winner and his prize may then engage in extended bouts of celebratory lovemaking; amorous sessions between Hercules beetles can last for 50 minutes-considerably longer than the average human encounter, which clocks in at a whopping… two minutes.

Epic, indeed.    

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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hairless cat: nothing but pink parts

hairless_cat

The Sphynx, also known as the Canadian hairless cat,  has skin the texture of Chamois leather, often covered with “peach fuzz, which displays the markings that the fur would have (were there any). Hairless cats, while follicularly challenged, come in all manner of feline variations (solid, point, van, tabby, tortie, etc). Without the barrier of an insulating coat,  the hairless cat’s velvety skin  feels warm to the touch.  

Known for their extroverted behavior, hairless cats are highly energetic and intelligent. Like all cats, hairless cats  are guilty of near-fatal  curiosity, but make up for their hijinks by demonstrating unparalleled affection for their people.

Indeed, ladies, the next time something warm and hairless rubs up against your leg under the covers, you might want to think twice before hurling the alarm clock at the head of your amorous mate: because the sphynx has no hair to keep it warm, it can often be found cuddling up against its owners under the covers.

 

Finally, the author of BV would like to subit that despite an arguably creepy adult appearance, hairless kittens are, to use the technical term,  pretty goddamn cute. 

2_week-old_female_sphynx_28suki29

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pink amblycorypha katydid

 

This Pink amblycorypha katydid gave his bride a gift, but she wishes he katy-didn't

This Pink amblycorypha katy-did give his bride a gift, but she wishes he katy-didn't

It has been brought to the author’s attention that the Pink Dragon Millipede is not the sole pink specimen  in the insect world; the pink amblycorypha katydid is equally pink, and no less charming at cocktail parties. In accordance with this discovery, the author would like to introduce a short run of “pretty in pink,” a series on roseate  members of the animal world. Whether their behaviors are as rosy as their hues remains to be seen.

The second member in our series (following the Dragon Millipede, naturally) is, as noted above, the pink amblycorypha katydid, a romantic soul and a genetic anomaly belonging to the species western round-winged katydid (Amblycorypha parvipennis). Like other katydids, this specimen  (should it prove to be a hetero male secure enough in his masculinity to wear pink)  will provide a “nuptial gift” of a  spermatophore, a nutritious little ball of ejaculate, to his loving bride.

What the author of  BV would like to know is: will that little love-token be equally pink, and mightn’t the female katydid prefer something by way of a box of chocolates?

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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.

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Gouldian Finches: female finches practice sex bias

female finches exhibit classic signs of "pussy control" (see link, below)

female finches exhibit classic signs of "pussy control"

Ever wished for a more palpable measure of a date’s long-term potential? Some visible sign telling you whether he will leave the toilet seat up? Gouldian finches can’t commiserate: females can judge a male  just by looking at his head.  

A new study in the journal Science has found that females produce more healthy offspring when they  mate with males of similar coloring to their own, and that as a result, females demonstrate pronounced sex bias towards compatibly feathered studs.

In a strange twist, moreover, female finches have the ability to control  the sex of their offspring, and when the female finche mates with a male of a different head colour, they tend to produce more male offspring.  According to Sarah Prkye, lead scientist on this study, males are preferred in this circumstance because male birds are more likely to survive incompatible  parents than are females.   The mechanism of this control is not known.

“It is pretty amazing,” says the unfortunately named director of this sex study,  “to think that the female herself has so much control – subconsciously of course – over this basic physiology.”  The author of BV submits that Dr. Pryke is perhaps a tad naive: these birds are not acting on subconscious instinct: they are simply living by the motto that  if brother didn’t have good ‘n’ plenty of his own, in love [they] never [will] fall.  

This conclusion is borne out by Pryke’s own admission that

“Females really don’t want to mate with a male with a different head colour” but because “there simply aren’t enough compatible males,”  the unmatched females eventually  “use this control to make the best of a bad situation.”

We feel ya, sisters.

 http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/7953467.stm

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African Bat Bug: insectus sex-offenderus

the african bat bug, seen here in it's mug shot,  is a convicted sex-offender

the african bat bug, seen here in its mug shot, is a convicted sex-offender and occasional drag artist

One would not wish to be a female bat bug. Male bat bugs (blood-sucking insects of the family Cimicidae) have developed the disconcerting  habit of ignoring females’ conventional girlie bits, instead using  their sharp penises to stab target  females in the stomach, injecting sperm directly into the bloodstream.

In response, females have developed “paragenitals,” which guide the offending male’s piercing member into reservoir of spongey immune cells. But this is far from the end of the story.  

According to a report from National Geographic,* scientests who ventured into dangerous bat caves in East Africa to study the bugs  were surprised at what they found ” We ended up uncovering a hotbed of deception,” says  evolutionary biologist Klaus Reinhardt at the University of Sheffield in England; “nothing like this exists anywhere else in the animal kingdom.”

Because  the rampant males aren’t just targeting females; there are, according to the same study, “documented cases of males performing the same injurious sexual acts on other males,” to less reproductive avail and the considerable confusion of their victims. 

So, what’s a bat bug to do? In this case,  male bat bugs have developed their own “female” paragenitals to avoid the assaults; not to be outdone, certain exceedingly clever female bat bugs have developed the ability to mimic the paragenitals of  males to improve their own defenses.  the author of BV attempted to make contact with someone who could shed light on this tangled web , but Julie Andrews, star of the hit film “Victor, Victoria,” was unavailable for comment.

This, dear readers, is not mere gender-bending, its survival drag. 

  

http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2007/09/070925-bat-bugs.html

Cf. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0084865/
      http://www.livescience.com/animals/070920_genderbender_bug.html
      http://www.bioedonline.org/news/news.cfm?art=3613
      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cimex_pilosellus

 

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Sea Anemone

figure 1: the sea anemone, sublime and strange

figure 1: clustered sea anemones, sublime and strange

Sea anemones (order Actiniaria) are marine predators named after the terrestrial anemone (a member of the Buttercup family).  When we think of sea anemones, we typically recall their beauty, their stinging poison, and the symbiotic relationship of certain species with clownfish, which are immune to the anemone’s neurotoxin.

 The internal anatomy of  a sea anemone is fairly simple, but the exterior– particularly the waving, colorful tentacles– is famously alien and even sublime in appearance, as in figure 1, above.

 Yet life teaches us that  for every instance of the sublime on earth, there is a corresponding example of the profane, and the sea anemone aptly demonstrates this truth (see figure 2, below).

 

figure 3: the sea anemone, in all of its earthy profanity.

figure 2: the sea anemone, in all its profane glory.

 

Cf.   http://www.actiniaria.com/
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_anemone

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