18 things you didn’t know about sex

by twit

a translation of Discover Magazine‘s “20 Things You Didn’t Know About Sex”

1. And on the third day, geologically speaking, God made fucking.

1. Life emerged on earth about 3.8 billion years ago, but sex did not evolve until more than 2 billion years later. Dirty limericks emerged only quite recently, geologically speaking.

2. Experts believe this was actually a step backward, evolutionarily speaking.

2. Sex—what is it good for? Scientists are not sure, since asexual reproduction is a better evolutionary strategy in some important ways.

3. Some species of earthworms never have to leave the house.

3. For those who refuse to commit to one strategy: The hermaphroditic earthworm Dendrobaena rubida has both male and female genitalia. If it cannot find a partner, the worm doubles up so that its female bits and male bits can go to town.

4. Penguins are known to fuck for rocks.

4. Although famously monogamous, female Adélie penguins slip away from their mates occasionally to couple with unattached males. They exact a fee (pdf) for such a dalliance—stones to bolster their nests—not unlike certain people.

5. Penguins are also cockteases, but they still get the rocks.

5. Some talented penguin teasers can get a gift even without putting out. Again, not unlike certain people.

6. An entire species of parrot has a fetish for loud squawking.

6. Barbary macaques have a distinctive way to get their mates to make a sperm donation: yelling. If the female does not shout, the male almost never climaxes.

7. Scientists watched countless hours of bird porn, tirelessly counting pelvic thrusts, in order to discover this fetish.

7. How do we know this? German primatologist Dana Pfefferle watched a group of macaques, counting the females’ yells and the males’ pelvic thrusts. She says this work is “quite weird, but it’s science.”

8. YouTube has bird porn.

8. Here in the US of A, that kind of stuff ends up on YouTube.

9. Fish have a language, probably developed to help with the fucking.

9. Because Barry White sounds terrible underwater: Fish can produce a variety of noises with their bones, teeth, and gas bladders. Grant Gilmore of Estuarine Coastal and Ocean Science Inc. says that male fish probably use some of these sounds to woo females.

10. The spiny anteater is a freaky, freaky dude.

10. The spiny anteater, an egg-laying mammal native to Australia and New Guinea, has a penis with four heads, but only two fit into the female at once.

11. Condolences to the paper nautilus octopus.

11. The tiny male paper nautilus, an octopus, impregnates the much larger female by shooting his penis (a modified tentacle) into her—and leaving it there.

12. 1500 species are known to exhibit gay behavior. Even invertebrates.

12. Homosexual behavior is found in at least 1,500 species of mammal, fish, reptile, bird, and even invertebrate.

13. Gay adoption has been observed in geese, following courtship between two males.

13. My two dads: When a male goose courts another male goose, a female sometimes slips in and mates with both males. Later, the male partners share paternal duties.

14. Seagull lesbians might want to think about adoption.

14. Some seagulls practice lesbian mating, although the eggs that result from their liaisons are sterile.

15. A drunk fruit fly has a penchant for conga-line orgies and will try to fuck anything with wings.

15. Biologists at the University of California at San Francisco have found that male fruit flies exposed to high levels of alcohol become hypersexual and try to court practically anything with wings, including other male fruit flies. Eventually the revelry turns into a dysfunctional orgy, with “a chain of males chasing each other,” says one insect expert (subscription).

16. The drunker the fruit fly gets, the greater the emphasis is on the word ‘try.’

16. As the flies get increasingly tanked, their chance for mating success keeps dropping. This is one more reason why the fruit fly is a great model for studying humans.

17. If you’re not doing it from behind, you’re a freak of nature.

17. Only a few vertebrates besides humans copulate face to face. Among those that sometimes do this: hamsters, beavers, and some primates, such as bonobos and orangutans.

18. The only two species that ‘french kiss’ are humans and a certain type of parrot. The male parrot, however, then throws up on the female.

18. French kissing is rarer still. The only other species known to do it as a prelude to mating is the white-fronted parrot. After the birds open their beaks and touch tongues, the male spews his lunch onto the female’s chest.

19. Humans typically do not throw up on each other after kissing.

19. It is here that the mating habits of the white-fronted parrot and Homo sapiens diverge.

20. Discover Magazine completely ran out of ‘things you didn’t know’ at this point…

20. Size really does matter: People tend to choose mates of similar race, education level—and chubbiness. A recent British study indicates that obese people usually select partners with comparable levels of body fat.

UPDATE! via Boing Boing on March 26, 2008, information about the mating habits of giant squids, and the particular difficulties faced by the males of the species:

… females are normally a third bigger than [males]. But males get round their inferior size by being endowed with a particularly long penis, which means they can inject the female without having to get too close to her chomping beak.

The male’s sexual organ is actually a bit like a high-pressure fire hose and is normally nearly as long as his body – excluding legs and head. “But having such a big penis does have one drawback: it seems that co-ordinating eight legs, two feeding tentacles and a huge penis, whilst fending off an irate female, is a bit too much to ask, and one of the two males stranded on the Spanish coast had accidentally injected himself with sperm packages in the legs and body.

And this does not seem to have been an isolated incident since two of the eight males that had stranded in the north-east Atlantic before had also accidentally inseminated themselves.

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