Love in the Animal Kingdom!

Miscellaneous

Happy Valentines Day! I hope you’re having a day filled with gushy romantic stuff from your loved ones. I thought to get into the spirit I would share 5 of my favourite romantic stories from the natural world.

Two elephants create heart shape with their trunks while the sun sets in the background at an elephant camp in the former Thai kingdom of Ayutthaya

“It Could Only Ever Be You”

There’s lots of stories of monogamous couples in the natural world. Lobsters are not one of them (Sorry Pheobe) but another sea creature could be described as the most monagamous in all of the ocean! That is the French angelfish! Most fish do not pair for life but this species does to help protect their territory. They team up and are able to defend a larger area. There is another theory that they pair up because it can be hard to find fish friends to hang out with and make baby fish with so when they find each other they stick together. What hasn’t been proven is that they are sexually monagomous as couples, little minxes (oo-er I’ll try and keep the rest of this blog PC)[1].

Pair of French angelfish

Photo credit: The Smithsonian

“The Birds and The Bees”

This love story perhaps isn’t as sweet as some of the others on this list but bees have a rather unique way of showing other bees they care. Male bees tend to get rather excited when “showing their love” to female bees. Brace yourself for this one, male bees finish off there love making by having their endophallus be torn off and left inside the female bee. Yes, you read that correctly, the bee’s bits get torn off! This is because bee reproduction is a little different in that once a female has the sperm they can hold on to it until they are ready to lay eggs. Bonus for the male is that seals off any chance of another male getting a mating with her [2].

Image result

Photo credit: Alvesgaspar

“The King of the Swingers”

Green anacondas are some of the heaviest reptiles around, they are around 4.6 metres long and the females are larger than the males. They have a rather strange way of getting together. As they mostly live singular lives when a female is ready to mate they lay down pheromones, this attracts MANY males to the female. Then the female mates with all of them in what’s called a mating ball. Breeding balls can sometimes stay together for up to four weeks and females can end up eating some of her smaller partners! That’s love in the green anaconda world [3].

Image result for green anaconda mating ball

“Rocks equal love”

Exchanging of gifts is fairly common on Valentines day, Adelie penguins take this one step further. A male Adelie penguin, living along the Antarctic coast, collects little rare rocks to present to his beloved. The female uses the rocks to line her nest, and if she likes the rock, she will allow him to mate with her, Verdolin says. Unfortunately for the poor male, if he wanders off and another male presents a rock, she will mate with him, too.[4].

Photo credit: Robert Nunn / Flickr

“Cuddles and Kisses”

I’ve written about them before but I feel like this list justifies talking about them again. This species spends up to 60% of their time with their other half. It has been scientifically proven that they give their partner kisses and cuddles when they are feeling stressed. And the males will only every stray away from their mate when being plied with alcohol. It is of course the Praire vole. Look at how cute they are[4]!

Photo Credit: Dave Challender

I hope you’re having a truly mushy Valentines day! Let me know your favourite love story from nature in the comments or on twitter!

ThatBiologist Everywhere!

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References:

[Cover Image Credit] – https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/natures-valentine-incredible-images-show-684291

[1] – https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/is-it-love-why-some-ocean-animals-sort-of-mate-for-life-16907109/?no-ist

[2] – https://www.perfectbee.com/learn-about-bees/the-science-of-bees/honey-bees-reproduce/

[3] – http://animals.mom.me/mating-habits-anacondas-11544.html

[4] – https://blog.nature.org/science/2016/02/09/ten-strange-endearing-and-alarming-mating-habits-of-the-animal-world/

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2 thoughts on “Love in the Animal Kingdom!

  1. The story I love is actually from the Disney movie: Lady and the Tramp. They [two dogs you might think have little in common] are dining in an Italian restaurant bathed in candlelight & music. They are tenderly sharing a plate of spaghetti. As they share a single string, they draw closer and closer. Their eyes are pinned, reflecting their deep love for each other. Finally, you imagine their lips will meet, and they share a kiss. Or as dogs do, sniff and nuzzle first, then share a kiss. Very romantic!

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