“But all is not chocolates and roses in the world of animal courtship.”
Looking for a unique Valentine’s gift? Why not take some inspiration from the animal kingdom’s weird and wonderful mating rituals.
“Gift-giving is not unique to humans. Many animals give what biologists refer to as â€˜nuptial gifts’ to their prospective mates,” Jonathan Balcombe, Ph.D., the director for animal sentience with the Humane Society Institute, told BuzzFeed over email.
That’s what roosters do. They’re basically the gentlemen of the animal kingdom. It is indeed the cock that knows how to treat a lady right.
“Roosters have a special call they make to nearby hens when they have found a tasty tidbit on the ground. Rather than eat it himself, the rooster will make this call,” Balcombe said.
“Hens come running and the rooster shows what a gallant fellow he is, which might (uh-hum) carry future dividends,” he said.
In a study published in PLOS One, male chimpanzees exchanged meat for sex, but the females wouldn’t give it up on the first night. Instead, the females were more likely to have sex with males who bought them meat for a period of around two years. They knew how to play the playa.
Male great gray shrike birds will offer females prey impaled on sticks, according to a University of South Bohemia zoology study published in BioOne. Size matters. The bigger the prey, the more likely the females are to mate. These little guys are socially monogamous, so they’re in it for the long run.
According to research published in the journal Naturwissenschaften – The Science of Nature, male Paratrechalea ornata spiders silk-wrapped prey to entice females to mate. But the females were more likely to reject their suitors if the silk-wrapping was not visually appealing or if it was poorly constructed.
The male golden orb-weaver spider relaxes its mates by “massaging” silk on their backs, according to a study published in PLOS One. This process is called “mate-binding.”
The study found that it wasn’t necessarily the “silk” that put the spiders in the mood, but the act of touching. Female spiders that were unable to feel a back rub were more likely to reject their mates, and in some cases, they ate them.
Sometimes, it’s for the best to be “forever alone.”
This one is an obvious classic, considering the movies tell us that the key to a girl’s heart is a beautiful, dazzling rose.
The bowerbird female is extra picky and selects mates based on the type of gift the male can provide. “Some courting birds have been observed passing flowers to their mates,” said Balcombe.
And bowerbirds are the only other species, besides humans, that will actually cultivate plants for something other than food, according to a University of Essex research team. Although it’s not “intentional” farming, bowerbirds will select attractive plants and then throw them away when the plant starts to wilt, which causes the seeds to germinate around their “homes.”
Speaking of bowerbirds, males are natural architects who build towering, decorated, structures made of leaves, twigs, flowers, and mushrooms in order to attract a female.
“The care that bowerbirds take in building their elaborate courtship arenas — with decorations of favorite colors and in some cases walls daubed with berry juice — ought to warm human hearts,” said Balcombe.
Bowerbirds will decorate their love shacks with all sorts of bling. According to National Geographic, male bowerbirds in Australia have been observed gathering anything “bright and shiny,” which includes CDs, snail shells, rifle shell castings, and mirrors.
These birds have also killed beetles for decoration. This is unique because humans are the only other species that have been observed killing other living creatures purely for decorative purposes, said Virginia Morell in National Geographic.
Don’t be fooled by fancy gifts. These casanovas are deadbeats. Males will ditch the females after mating, so females are forced to raise their chicks by themselves.
You don’t have to be rich to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Remember, male Paratrechalea ornata spiders give their mates silk-wrapped prey. But in a study discussed in Scientific American, researchers gathered around 50 spiders and found that 70% of them gave their lovers fake gifts. Sneaky bastards.
The “cheap” spiders ate the prey themselves and wrapped up the inedible skeletons for their partners. The bigger, more well-fed spiders were more likely to give their mates real gifts, since they didn’t need the nourishment.
Interestingly, the researchers found that virgin female Paratrechalea ornata spiders didn’t even give a crap about gifts. The virgins were more likely to mate with males who had good bodies, even if those males didn’t bring any gift at all.
Because nothing says I love you like some cyanide.
The six-spot burnet moth woos its female companions by offering them cyanide. Don’t worry, it’s not some weird necrophilia thing. The moths use the poison to ward away predators, and females even use it to protect their larvae, according to Discovery News.
It’s the greatest babysitter ever.
North American male porcupines have mastered the art of seduction, if you’re into water sports that is. They’ll turn their female partners on by peeing on them.
“But this is not the kind of urination you have when your bladder is full. It’s a high-speed projectile that launches drops of urine from one tree branch to another,” researcher Uldis Roze, Ph.D., told Live Science.
Male fruit flies will vomit up their food during their lovely courtship rituals. The females will EAT it. Some species of fruit flies will even eat the male’s “anal secretions” during seduction, according to biologist Carol Boggs’ research published by Stanford University. Think about that next time you see two flies nearing your wine cup.
Sagebush crickets are kinky. During sex, females will drink their lover’s blood, according to a study published in Animal Behaviour.
“All is not chocolates and roses in the world of animal courtship…And what bigger nuptial gift than sacrificing your life for your offspring? [After mating, redback male spiders] catapult themselves into the female’s fangs, giving her a meal to help make eggs as his final and fatal contribution to reproduction,” evolutionary biologist Jerry Coyne, Ph.D., told BuzzFeed over email.
Red velvet mites have a rather, um, unique approach to the dating world. According to Jerry Coyne, these little guys build what he refers to as “sperm castles.” Like bowerbirds, male mites will build structures made out of twigs and plants. But the mites will cover the whole thing in sperm. Lots and lots of sperm.
If the female is impressed by the mite’s advances, then she’ll come inside (no pun intended) the cum castle and impregnate herself on one of the sperm bubble decorations. Unfortunately, rival males will also come by to try to trash the sperm castle, said Coyne.
Please don’t take any of this advice seriously.