| Friday, February 11, 2005
| EVEN PENGUINS PAY FOR LOVE
|In animal kingdom, prostitution another
birds, bees story
When a man lavishes his lady friend with sweets,
flowers and dinner on Valentine's Day, we call it love.
When a woman insists on material gain before surrendering
her favors, we call it something else.
But prostitution isn't limited to the human species.
Even in the animal kingdom, where such shenanigans go back
millions of years, it "seems to live up to its reputation
as the oldest profession," says an article in the
February/March issue of National Wildlife magazine.
For example, a female decorated cricket won't have sex
with a male until he delivers his bag of sperm inside
an edible gelatinous mass.
"It's like a ball inside a catcher's mitt", Scott Sakaluk,
a behavioral ecologist at Illinois State Unviersity in Normal,
told the Sun Times. "The mitt is a food gift."
When she mounts him, the male cricket attaches the package
to her genitalia so a tube can drain sperm into her body.
She bends around, tears off the meal portion and starts eating.
Actually, the gift is of little value.
"It's like a big Gummy Bear". Sakaluk said, "It excites her
taste receptors, but it's not very nutritious at all."
The male must not cheat, however. If the meal is to small it
won't keep the female busy for the 50 to 55 minutes it takes
to fully inseminate her, and she'll eat the sperm ball as well.
Mate known to eat their dates
The stakes are even higher for dance flies. If the male does'nt
treat her to dinner, he becomes the meal, said University of
Illinois entomologist Gilbert Waldbauer.
"BUt in some dance flies, the gift has evoled into a ritualistic
and purely symbolic gesture,"He said.
The meal is another insect gift wrapped in a silk balloon,
but some guy flies have found they can get away with presenting
an empty balloon.
"Why she accepts it, nobody knows," Waldbauer said.
Not every kind of insect is so lucky. Praying mantises are
among the species whose males, if it's unlikely they will find
another mate, let themselves be eaten to give female more energy
to make eggs.
"The best thing be can do is become a meal for his mate,"
Waldbauer said, "It's the ultimate gift".
Stones are traded for affection
Diamonds, of course, may be a girl's best friend, but
Lady Adelie penguins prefer real rocks.
They need them to keep their eggs dry and off the cold
ground, and will leave their mates and offer themselves
to single male in return for stones.
Sometimes, like a hooker ripping off a drunken john,
a bird will make off with a stone before the male can
have his way with her.
Fiona Hunter, a University of Sheffield, England zoologist
told the National Wildlife. "It's as if she takes the money and run".
(abstracted from CHISUNTIMES/by: Gary Wisby/
|posted by infraternam meam @ 3:52 AM