Stuff You Didn’t Know About Sexual “Bonding”

That’s “bonding” in a social sense. It doesn’t mean a male and a female stuck together, mid-copulation, for life.

Monogamy in a sexual sense virtually doesn’t exist in nature. The red fox, noted for its devotion to one mate, slips away occasionally to spread around the good will. The Adélie penguin, also famous for its monogamy, gets away occasionally (the females, that is) to mate with unattached males.

The female penguins exact a fee for this service. The male has to pony up a bunch of stones to bolster the nests of the female. Some skilled female penguins can even get a male to offer up the stones without offering her services later.

“Genetic testing has put the lie to the myth of monogamy” according to narrator F. Murray Abraham, of the PBS series Nature. Ninety-nine percent of mammal species never form pair bonds. Of the few that do, the genetic material of the devoted pairs can still be found in offspring of others. In the case of the red fox, that figure is about 80 percent.

So, in nature, monogamy means devotion to one mate in a relationship sense, not in a sexual sense. Nature cares about genetic diversity, not relationships.

Though life began on our planet some 3.8 billion years ago, sexual reproduction didn’t evolve until about two billion years later. Scientists aren’t sure why it even developed since they believe asexual reproduction has advantages over the sexual variety in several important ways.

The excuse that close relationships of paired animals required it falls apart when you realize that sexual reproduction developed first in plants. Unless, maybe, plants that reproduce sexually send signals between each other that we can’t detect. “Hey, Baby, how about we put your pistil together with my stamen?”

The earthworm Dendrobaena rubida has the best of both worlds, with both male and female reproductive equipment. It can mate with any other of its own kind. In a pinch, it can even double itself around and mate with itself. Successfully, without having idiot offspring. And they don’t call each other by nasty names either.

We know a fair amount about the mating habits of monkeys because they have been studied intensively for the past few decades. Bonobos, which are quite similar in appearance to our nearest DNA relatives, chimpanzees, are notorious lovers. They go at it many times each day, with no thought about jealous mates. Bonobos are also known as the least aggressive members of the ape family. Do the math.

Barbary macaques have maybe the noisiest mating procedures. Once the male engages the female, the female yells to get the male to ejaculate. Without the yelling, the males often don’t climax. My sources didn’t say if the yelling was of the “Get it on, you….!” or of the accentuated sweet talk variety.

If people did that, it would be on YouTube. Or YouPorn, a new site for amateurs.

The spiny anteater, native to Australia and New Zealand, has a penis with four heads. (You can’t make up stuff like this. No one would believe it.) However, only two of the anteater’s penis heads will fit into a female at once. No mention in my sources about threesomes.

The ultimate in mating–at least the ultimate in mating sacrifice–must be the tiny paper nautilus. It’s an octopus. The smaller male impregnates the much larger female by shooting his penis into her. Then he has to leave it there and take off or the female gets mighty grouchy.

Nature has lots of examples of homosexual behaviour. About 1500 species of mammal, fish, reptile, bird and even invertebrates do it.

When two male geese decide to keep company, a female will often slip between them and mate with both. Later, the males share fatherly duties. I have seen that happen with mallard ducks as well. It was a bit strange to see two males and one female together constantly for weeks at a time each year.

Fruit flies have been studied in laboratories because they are such easy subjects. At the University of California at San Francisco biologists exposed male fruit flies to high levels of alcohol, then turned them loose. The males were ready to mate with anything they could, including other males and other species of flying insect (if they could).

One expert said that eventually the test turned into a homosexual orgy, with “a chain of males chasing each other.”

The more alcohol the males had in them, the less likely they were to mate successfully, despite their lack of discrimination. No wonder they’re a great model for studying human-like behaviour.

While bonobos and orangutans join humans as the few species to mate face to face, few other primates do. Hamsters and beavers are among them.

French kissing is rare in nature. The white-fronted parrot is the only species other than humans known to do it. The birds open their beaks prior to mating, then touch each other’s tongues. After that, the male spews his lunch over the female’s chest.

While the latter behaviour is not common among humans, it’s not unknown among college frat boys.

Size does matter. Tall people tend to choose each other as mates. People also tend to choose mates with the same hair colour (check out how many blonds are coupled with blondes), skin colour and education level.

One British study even showed that obese people tend to choose mates with comparable levels of body fat. While the reason for this may seem self evident, the mates usually select each other before they become obese.

Finally, nature plays some dirty tricks on us dumb humans. Young women with the most curvaceous figures usually become fat as they get older. Rounded butts and eye-catching breasts are almost entirely composed of fat. For many women, fat collects first in the places that men pay most attention to. Then it spreads. As always, caveat emptor.

Bill Allin
Turning It Around: Causes and Cures for Today’ Epidemic Social Problems, a guidebook for parents and teachers who want to teach kids what they most need to know to avoid getting into trouble, before the trouble presents itself.
Learn more at

http://billallin.com

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