When it comes to the animal kingdom, the odd sex antics of some species fair make your eyes water, and just when you thought you knew everything about the birds and the bees!
For odd sex antics in the insect world, look no further than the honeybee. The virgin queen bee demonstrates the ultimate in girl power. When it’s time for her to mate, she takes just a ‘lucky’ few of the many drones from the hive accompany her on a mating flight. Once a drone successfully has its way with her, its testicles explode and its penis breaks off and is retained inside the queen. Not surprisingly, the poor drone dies soon afterwards. Once the dozen or so mating drones have all been dispensed with, the queen bee has all the semen she needs inside her, and she selectively releases it over the next two to seven years.
Now, as duels go, this is one of the oddest. Flatworms are hermaphrodite, but obviously none really want to be the female. A pair therefore engages in ‘penis fencing’ to decide who will become the female carrier of the next generation. Each flatworm tries to stab the other with its two-pronged dagger-like appendage. The one that manages to penetrate the skin deposits its sperm through the others’ pores, and that one becomes ‘mother’, incubating the offspring.
Although the actual mating itself might be exactly what you’d expect, what leads up to it is a little out of the usual. The male giraffe will only mate with a female in season, and to discover whether or not the mating’s worth his while, he will rub up against her bottom… until she pees in his mouth! From the urine he is able to tell whether she is on heat or not. If she is, he will attempt to keep other males away, engaging in necking – that is either pressing necks against each other until one male gives way, or even swinging necks and bashing the opponent, until one concedes. Oddly, once the fight is over, the males will often caress each other’s necks and then have sex with each other!
These bizarre looking fish have an equally odd way of reproducing. It is the female who is by far the larger sex – being up to 10 times as big as the male. These males exist for just one thing – finding a female to mate with, and once they have, they bite into her skin. They then begin to fuse all their blood vessels and the males begin to disappear, with his eyes and all organs degenerating completely, except his testes, which remain on the female as a bump. The female can carry around up to six of these ‘males’ on her body and is so assured of a steady supply of sperm.
These prickly creatures have a strange way of choosing their mate, but with their sharp quills it’s probably sensible to have some foreplay that doesn’t risk injury! First they rub noses together, and the female decides whether she’s happy for the male to go any further. If she’s still keen, the male stands up on his back legs and wees all over her! If he’s not her sort of boy, she’ll shake off the wee and go off in search of someone else, however if she finds him to her liking, she’ll expose her underbelly (which doesn’t have quills) and they can mate safely.
6. Argentine Lake Duck
When it comes to well-endowed ducks, the Argentine lake duck is in a class of its own! Although the ducks are quite small – about 16 inches long – their penises, covered with coarse spines, but with a soft, brushlike tip, can corkscrew out to up to 17 inches. Although the males undertake an elaborate courtship display, the females are often reluctant to mate, but when they try to flee, the male duck uses its penis as a type of lasso to catch her!