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Entries in sex in nature (8)


Feeding Male Great Tits Makes Lazy Birds Unwilling To Get Up & Sing for a Mate

Who in her right mind would oppose feeding the birds? An evolutionary biology sexuality expert might, based on news of what happens to male great tits, when their stomachs are full.

Valentin Amrhein of the University of Basel, in Switzerland, asked himself if feeding birds is good for them. His study is small — just 28 male great tits (no kidding) living in the suburbs of Oslo in Spring 2007 and observed at dawn three times, with 16-17 days between observations.

The first observation took place in the absence of supplementary food. Immediately afterwards, a feeder was provided within the observed male’s territory. Half of these feeders were kept filled with food, but half remained empty. Full or empty, each feeder was left in place for 16-17 days, at which time a second observation was made and the feeder was removed. The third and final observation was made 17 days after this. via The Economist

When humans wake up to a bucolic big tit chorus, it sounds like every bird is having a great time. In fact, male birds have to get up early, not having eaten anything all night, and expose themselves to rain, sleet, hail, snow and high winds. The great tits are demonstrating their worthiness to females as breeding mats.

You’ve heard that the early bird gets the worm, but he also gets the girl bird.

Dr. Amrhein thought birds fed extra food would be in the front row of the early morning bird song chorous. Quite the opposite occured. Basically the birds fed extra bird seed became lazy louts, refusing to wake up and sing. The effect was sustained even after the food was removed.

Having become couch potatos, the male big tits expressed little concern that the sun was up and they weren’t singing.

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Mating | Divinely Complex Mating Strategies of Poecilia Parae

Pursuing Genetic Purity in ‘Poecilia Parae’ Fish

Unlike most species, ‘poecilla parae’ have maintained a level of color purity unknown in most of the animal or human kingdom. The fish come in exactly five, genetically determined colors: red, yellow, blue, parae (clear with a black stripe), and immaculate (drab grey that mimics the color of immature females).

This is one complicated evolutionary story, so please listen up!

Immaculates Must Get Dirty

If ‘immaculate’ makes you think of the Virgin Mary and birth without a sexual romp, erase. We’re entering the rough and tumble world of males at war. Even immaculates have to play ball, in order to reproduce.

The immaculates may be divine right fish, but they are generally the smallest and hate violence. The yellows almost always defeat the immaculatas, stopping them from approaching females.

Complicating the sex habits of ‘poecillia parae’ is the fact that girl fishies prefer red and yellow fish, just as human women prefer a man in red. (Why then do women say they hate red lingerie, man’s favorite color? No wonder we confound men.)

Not Enough Good Red and Yellows

Guess what? Females prefer a red fish or yellow one, but they are in short supply and the rarest colors found in the ‘poecilia parae’ wild. Forget the fact that the girl fish are promiscuous as hell. Even if they were monogamous, there’s not enough red and yellow males to meet their sexual needs.

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Showgirl Flowers Are Just Looking for Love & Good Sex

Credit: iStockphoto/Rob BroekSex in nature is irresistably fascinating. José María Gómez and Francisco Perfectti of the University of Granada have used complex geometric analysis to show that insect pollinators influence the evolution of flower shape.via Science Daily

It isn’t the case that flowers have no brains of their own. With all the talk about female emancipation, a girl flower is still on a life mission to get polinated. The researchers found that insects have different preferences in flower shape.

“Large bees preferred flowers with narrow petals; small bees had a preference for wider flowers; bee flies had a preference for rounded flowers.”

Smart flowers adapt to catch their insect. Flowers with shapes preferred by pollinators tend to have higher output of nectar and pollen. If you let your imagination run wild, all kinds of questions come to mind, which is why Darwin once described the entire process of pollination and flowers an “abdominable mystery.”

A second article on this Science Daily subject also caught my eye.

Consider the pollination problem of your average sundew plant. Depending on pollination for reproduction, you want the longest possible flowerstalks. Time and time again, we know what happens to tall rapturous flowers with a lot of backbone. They become the lunch of Conservatives.

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Restoring the Reputation of The Female Preying Mantis

We so love sex in nature stories at AOC. They’re far more exciting than any trouble Carrie ever got into on ‘Sex and the City’. It seems that the reputation of the female praying mantis is besmirched by incompetent science. Jezebel is hot on the trail of the story, via I Blame the Patriarchy.

New research tells a different story about Ms. Praying Mantis, who is only a predator 5-31% of the time, based on new observations. The original research conclusions were drawn on preying mantises that were most likely hungry.

The mantis has an enormous appetite, eating up to sixteen crickets a day, but is not limited to just insects. They are carnivorous and cannibalistic, and only eat live prey in both nymph and adult stages. Caged in a jar, rather than in open-air living, the mantis will bite.

“Placing them in the same jar, the male, in alarm, endeavoured to escape. In a few minutes the female succeeded in grasping him. She first bit off his front tarsus, and consumed the tibia and femur. Next she gnawed out his left eye…it seems to be only by accident that a male ever escapes alive from the embraces of his partner” Leland Ossian Howard, Science, 1886.

When observed ‘au naturel’, cannibalism occurs much less often. Besides, asks writer Michele Doughty, why is it a catastrophe that the male mantis dies, passing on his genes and vitamins to his offspring, so that they can continue the chain of evolution.

We had a very smart-ass hypothesis regarding the Praying mantis being hungry story, comparing her to fruit flies. Whereas male are relentless in their pursuit of especially beautiful and sexy fruit flies, causing her to nearly starve for lack of time to eat, the mating ritual among the praying mantis appears to involve much more mutuality.

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'Glow-in-the-dark' Sperm Reveal Sexy Secrets

This is the reproductive tract (less ovaries) of female D. melanogaster initially mated to GFP-sperm male then remated to RFP-sperm male. Green sperm heads have left the storage organs and can be seen mixing with red sperm heads in the bursa. (Credit: Scott Pitnick, Syracuse University)RoseTracker| Creative thinking inspired Syracuse University biology professors to genetically alter the heads of fruitflies to be green or red. Because most of nature is promiscuous, meaning that the female mates with more than one male, in search for the best sperm for her offspring — it’s been very difficult for researchers to keep track of events within her body.

Besides the female practicing her own Darwinian supreme sperm selection, rival sperm are competing to fertilize her eggs. We know that these rival sperm will even form teams, supporting their guy’s sperm, much like a hockey team bands together for victory.

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Sexy Fruit Flies Have Fewer Babies

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When the subject is fruit flies, some females are just too sexy for their own good.

A new study proclaims that ‘sexier’ female fruit flies suffer more than unattractives ones. Now ladies … no clapping. Tristan Long, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Toronto explains that

The reason is twofold: The repeated advances hindered the females’ ability to find food, and too much sex left the females overloaded with toxic semen, Long said. via National Geographic

Bottom line, the pretty girl fruit flies didn’t have as many babies. Whoever said that science is boring has it all wrong.

I’m curious what the implications are for sexy women, in this evolutionary study. We think they have the perfect life — thin, beautiful, rich, handsome husband.

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In the Animal Kingdom, Research on Sperm Loads Negates Top-Dog Male Status

We have back to back sperm news from the animal kingdom this morning:

1. Based on mathematical modeling, attractive males release fewer sperm.

Science Daily reports that a paper soon published in the American Naturalist, scientists modelled a range of mmale ejaculation strategies, looking for the optimal “sperm load” per mating and the variable impacting “sperm load”.

Prior studies showed that in some species, the most males with privileged access to females ejaculate sprem of lower fertilising quality than subordinate males. Seed bettles now join domestic fowl and Arctic charr (a fish) on this list.

We cannot assume that the model holds with humans, especially given the reality that ‘human attractiveness’ in the mating process is impacted by many cultural factors.

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