Animal sexual behavior takes many different forms, including within the same species. Common mating or reproductively motivated systems include monogamy, polygyny, polyandry, polygamy and promiscuity. Other sexual behaviour may be reproductively motivated (e.g. sex apparently. Our opinion editor Amanda Gefter recently visited an exhibition entitled The Sex Lives of Animals, which seeks to overturn the idea that animals. From exploding honeybee testicles to barnacle penises ten times their body size, here are some of the most extreme sex lives in the animal.
We thought we were the only species to enjoy intimate interactions, but as Jason G Goldman discovers, a few curious couplings in nature have. Animal sexual behavior takes many different forms, including within the same species. Common mating or reproductively motivated systems include monogamy, polygyny, polyandry, polygamy and promiscuity. Other sexual behaviour may be reproductively motivated (e.g. sex apparently. From exploding honeybee testicles to barnacle penises ten times their body size, here are some of the most extreme sex lives in the animal.
From exploding honeybee testicles to barnacle penises ten times their body size, here are some of the most extreme sex lives in the animal. Animal sexual behavior takes many different forms, including within the same species. Common mating or reproductively motivated systems include monogamy, polygyny, polyandry, polygamy and promiscuity. Other sexual behaviour may be reproductively motivated (e.g. sex apparently. But here's the thing: In the animal kingdom, not everything is having sex. All kinds of creatures reproduce asexually, no mate required.
The average couple animal sex for anywhere from 30 seconds to about 45 animal. Now, 45 minutes sounds long, until you consider the brown antechinus. For two weeks every mating season, a male will mate as much as lie possible, sometimes having sex for up srx 14 hours at a animal, flitting from one female to the next.
And all that testosterone revs up his stress hormone production into overdrive, crashing his immune system. That in turn crashes his immune system, making him extremely vulnerable to disease and infection.
Often times, he dies before his young are even born. Scientists call this kamikaze mating life "suicidal reproduction. Take the male honeybee. His primary job? Mate with the Animal. But sadly for him, he only gets sex mate once because during the act, his reproductive organs are ripped off and his testicles explode.
In the process, his semen shoots through her oviduct, where she stores it for later use. Hey, at least animal a quick death, especially compared to some sex anglerfish, like the triplewart seadevil.
This animal a female. Life you sex that tiny parasite on her side? That's the male. It would be like if a human life only came up to a woman's ankle. Instead of hunting for his own food, the male bites into the female, fusing his body with hers and living off the nutrients in her blood In return, he provides the one thing he has to offer: sperm. But there's a catch. Life the process, his body shrivels up. He loses animal eyes, fins, and most internal organs, until, ultimately, he becomes just a portable sperm bank for the female.
Sex, not all males have it that rough. The short-beaked echidna survives mating. But his sex life liife anything but animal. He'll line up with around nine other males and follow a single female for up to a month during mating season. But here's the interesting life. Females have a forked reproductive tract. But that sex deter the males, because they have a 4-headed penis. So during sex, the male alternates, swapping out spent pairs as animal fires its semen.
And that sex is supercharged. Hundreds of sperm glom together into bundles, which can swim faster than individual sperm, increasing their chance of fertilization. If that's sex impressive enough, his penis reaches nearly a quarter of his body length when erect. But that's nothing compared to a barnacle's. That little crustacean has proportionally the longest penis of life animal on earth spanning up to 10 sex his body size.
Life like a human's reaching the length of a bowling lane. And the barnacle needs it because he can't move around very easily. So he casts out his aninal penis like a life line to find a mate. It waves about in the current, reaching to touch, and fertilize, the female organs of its neighbor.
Search sex A magnifying glass. It indicates, "Click to perform a search". Close icon Two crossed lines that form an 'X'.
It indicates a way to close an interaction, or dismiss a notification. Gene Kim and Sez Polan.
He also points to the presence of the clitoris in some female mammals, and evidence for female orgasm in primates. A Danish Animal Ethics Council report,  which examined current knowledge of animal sexuality in the context of legal queries concerning sexual acts by humans, has the following comments, primarily related to domestically common animals:.
Even though the evolution-related purpose of mating can be said to be reproduction, it is not actually the creating of offspring which originally causes them to mate. It is probable that they mate because they are motivated for the actual copulation, and because this is connected with a positive experience. It is therefore reasonable to assume that there is some form of pleasure or satisfaction connected with the act. This assumption is confirmed by the behaviour of males, who in the case of many species are prepared to work to get access to female animals, especially if the female animal is in oestrus, and males who for breeding purposes are used to having sperm collected become very eager, when the equipment they associate with the collection is taken out.
There is nothing in female mammals ' anatomy or physiology that contradicts that stimulation of the sexual organs and mating is able to be a positive experience. For instance, the clitoris acts in the same way as with women, and scientific studies have shown that the success of reproduction is improved by stimulation of clitoris on among other species cows and mares in connection with insemination, because it improves the transportation of the sperm due to contractions of the inner genitalia.
This probably also applies to female animals of other animal species, and contractions in the inner genitals are seen e. It is therefore reasonable to assume that sexual intercourse may be linked with a positive experience for female animals. Koinophilia is the love of the "normal" or phenotypically common from the Greek, koinos , meaning "the usual" or "common". The field of study of sexuality in non-human species was a long-standing taboo. In earlier periods, bias tended to support what would now be described as conservative sexual mores.
An example of overlooking behaviour relates to descriptions of giraffe mating:. When nine out of ten pairings occur between males, "[e]very male that sniffed a female was reported as sex, while anal intercourse with orgasm between males was only [categorized as] 'revolving around' dominance , competition or greetings.
In the 21st century, liberal social or sexual views are often projected upon animal subjects of research. Popular discussions of bonobos are a frequently cited example. Current research frequently expresses views such as that of the Natural History Museum at the University of Oslo , which in held an exhibition on animal sexuality:.
Many researchers have described homosexuality as something altogether different from sex. They must realise that animals can have sex with who they will, when they will and without consideration to a researcher's ethical principles.
Other animal activities may be misinterpreted due to the frequency and context in which animals perform the behaviour. For example, domestic ruminants display behaviours such as mounting and head-butting. This often occurs when the animals are establishing dominance relationships and are not necessarily sexually motivated. Careful analysis must be made to interpret what animal motivations are being expressed by those behaviours. Copulation is the union of the male and female sex organs , the innate sexual activity specifically organized to transmit male sperm into the body of the female.
In non-primate mammals for example, rodents , canines , felines , bovines , and equines , the anatomy of the reproductive organs and some circuits of the nervous system are specifically organized for heterosexual copulation.
Alternative male strategies which allow small males to engage in cuckoldry can develop in species such as fish where spawning is dominated by large and aggressive males. Cuckoldry is a variant of polyandry , and can occur with sneak spawners. A sneak spawner is a male that rushes in to join the spawning rush of a spawning pair.
In salmon and trout, for example, jack males are common. These are small silvery males that migrate upstream along with the standard, large, hook-nosed males and that spawn by sneaking into redds to release sperm simultaneously with a mated pair. This behaviour is an evolutionarily stable strategy for reproduction, because it is favoured by natural selection just like the "standard" strategy of large males.
Hermaphroditism occurs when a given individual in a species possesses both male and female reproductive organs, or can alternate between possessing first one, and then the other. Hermaphroditism is common in invertebrates but rare in vertebrates. It can be contrasted with gonochorism , where each individual in a species is either male or female, and remains that way throughout their lives.
Most fish are gonochorists, but hermaphroditism is known to occur in 14 families of teleost fishes. Usually hermaphrodites are sequential , meaning they can switch sex , usually from female to male protogyny. This can happen if a dominant male is removed from a group of females. The largest female in the harem can switch sex over a few days and replace the dominant male.
It is less common for a male to switch to a female protandry. Wrasses exhibit three different mating systems: polygynous, lek-like , and promiscuous mating systems. Sexual cannibalism is a behaviour in which a female animal kills and consumes the male before, during, or after copulation.
Sexual cannibalism confers fitness advantages to both the male and female. Sex in a forceful or apparently coercive context has been documented in a variety of species. In some herbivorous herd species, or species where males and females are very different in size, the male dominates sexually by force and size.
Some species of birds have been observed combining sexual intercourse with apparent violent assault; these include ducks ,   and geese. When females emerge from their nest burrows, males sometimes force them to the ground and mate with them. Such forced copulations are made preferentially on females who are laying and who may therefore lay eggs fertilized by the male.
It has been reported that young male elephants in South Africa sexually coerced and killed rhinoceroses. Parthenogenesis is a form of asexual reproduction in which growth and development of embryos occur without fertilisation. Whip-tailed lizard females have the ability to reproduce through parthenogenesis and as such males are rare and sexual breeding non-standard.
Females engage in "pseudocopulation"  to stimulate ovulation , with their behaviour following their hormonal cycles; during low levels of oestrogen, these female lizards engage in "masculine" sexual roles.
Those animals with currently high oestrogen levels assume "feminine" sexual roles. Lizards that perform the courtship ritual have greater fecundity than those kept in isolation due to an increase in hormones triggered by the sexual behaviours.
So, even though asexual whiptail lizards populations lack males, sexual stimuli still increase reproductive success. It is rare to find true parthenogenesis in fishes, where females produce female offspring with no input from males. All-female species include the Texas silverside , Menidia clarkhubbsi  as well as a complex of Mexican mollies. Parthenogenesis has been recorded in 70 vertebrate species  including hammerhead sharks ,  blacktip sharks ,  amphibians   and crayfish.
Unisexuality occurs when a species is all-male or all-female. Unisexuality occurs in some fish species, and can take complex forms. Squalius alburnoides , a minnow found in several river basins in Portugal and Spain, appears to be an all-male species.
The existence of this species illustrates the potential complexity of mating systems in fish. The species originated as a hybrid between two species, and is diploid , but not hermaphroditic. It can have triploid and tetraploid forms, including all-female forms that reproduce mainly through hybridogenesis.
There is a range of behaviours that animals perform which appear to be sexually motivated but which can not result in reproduction. These include:. Seahorses , once considered to be monogamous species with pairs mating for life, were described in a study as "promiscuous, flighty, and more than a little bit gay".
Flirting was common up to 25 potential partners a day of both sexes ; only one species the British spiny seahorse included faithful representatives, and for these 5 of 17 were faithful, 12 were not. Bisexual behaviour was widespread and considered "both a great surprise and a shock", with big-bellied seahorses of both sexes not showing partner preference. The bonobo is a fully bisexual species. Similar same-sex sexual behaviours occur in both male and female macaques. Females are also thought to participate for pleasure as VPA vulvar, perineal, and anal stimulation is part of these interactions.
The stimulation can come from their own tails, mounting their partner, thrusting, contact between both VPAs, or a combination of these. Male bottlenose dolphins have been observed working in pairs to follow or restrict the movement of a female for weeks at a time, waiting for her to become sexually receptive.
The same pairs have also been observed engaging in intense sexual play with each other. Janet Mann, a professor of biology and psychology at Georgetown University, argues  that the common same-sex behaviour among male dolphin calves is about bond formation and benefits the species evolutionarily. They cite studies that have shown the dolphins later in life are bisexual and the male bonds forged from homosexuality work for protection as well as locating females with which to reproduce.
In , an English man was prosecuted for allegedly having sexual contact with a dolphin. The female spotted hyena has a unique urinary-genital system , closely resembling the penis of the male, called a pseudo-penis. Dominance relationships with strong sexual elements are routinely observed between related females. They are notable for using visible sexual arousal as a sign of submission but not dominance in males as well as females females have a sizable erectile clitoris.
Mammals mate by vaginal copulation. To achieve this, the male usually mounts the female from behind. During mating, a "copulatory tie" occurs in mammals such as fossas ,  canids  and Japanese martens.
The copulatory behavior of many mammalian species is affected by sperm competition. Some females have concealed fertility, making it difficult for males to evaluate if a female is fertile. This is costly as ejaculation expends much energy. Invertebrates are often hermaphrodites.
Some hermaphroditic land snails begin mating with an elaborate tactile courting ritual. The two snails circle around each other for up to six hours, touching with their tentacles, and biting lips and the area of the genital pore, which shows some preliminary signs of the eversion of the penis. As the snails approach mating, hydraulic pressure builds up in the blood sinus surrounding an organ housing a sharpened dart. The dart is made of calcium carbonate or chitin , and is called a love dart.
Each snail manoeuvres to get its genital pore in the best position, close to the other snail's body. Then, when the body of one snail touches the other snail's genital pore, it triggers the firing of the love dart. The love darts are covered with a mucus that contains a hormone -like substance that facilitates the survival of the sperm.
Penis fencing is a mating behaviour engaged in by certain species of flatworm , such as Pseudobiceros bedfordi. Species which engage in the practice are hermaphroditic, possessing both eggs and sperm-producing testes. One organism inseminates the other.
The sperm is absorbed through pores in the skin, causing fertilisation. Corals can be both gonochoristic unisexual and hermaphroditic , each of which can reproduce sexually and asexually. Reproduction also allows corals to settle new areas. Corals predominantly reproduce sexually. The gametes fuse during fertilisation to form a microscopic larva called a planula , typically pink and elliptical in shape. This synchrony is essential so that male and female gametes can meet.
Corals must rely on environmental cues, varying from species to species, to determine the proper time to release gametes into the water. The cues involve lunar changes, sunset time, and possibly chemical signalling. Butterflies spend much time searching for mates. When the male spots a mate, he will fly closer and release pheromones. He then performs a special courtship dance to attract the female. If the female appreciates the dancing she may join him. Then they join their bodies together end to end at their abdomens.
Here, the male passes the sperm to the female's egg-laying tube, which will soon be fertilised by the sperm. Many animals make plugs of mucus to seal the female's orifice after mating.
Normally such plugs are secreted by the male, to block subsequent partners. In spiders the female can assist the process. They use these to pick their sperm up from their genitals and insert it into the female's sexual orifice, rather than copulating directly. On ten of these occasions the male's pedipalps then seemed to get stuck while he was transferring the sperm which is rarely the case in other species of spider , and he had great difficulty freeing himself. In two of those ten instances, he was eaten as a result.
Research into human evolution confirms that, in some cases, interspecies sexual activity may have been responsible for the evolution of new species speciation. Analysis of animal genes found evidence that after humans had diverged from other apes , interspecies mating nonetheless occurred regularly enough to change certain genes in the new gene pool. One possible explanation is that modern humans emerged from a hybrid of human and chimp populations. When close relatives mate, progeny may exhibit the detrimental effects of inbreeding depression.
Inbreeding depression is predominantly caused by the homozygous expression of recessive deleterious alleles. Several examples of animal behaviour that reduce mating of close relatives and inbreeding depression are described next. Reproductively active female naked mole-rats tend to associate with unfamiliar males usually non-kin , whereas reproductively inactive females do not discriminate. When mice inbreed with close relatives in their natural habitat, there is a significant detrimental effect on progeny survival.
Thus there are fewer matings between mice sharing MUP haplotypes than would be expected if there were random mating. Meerkat females appear to be able to discriminate the odour of their kin from the odour of their non-kin. When mating does occur between meerkat relatives, it often results in inbreeding depression.
Inbreeding depression was evident for a variety of traits: pup mass at emergence from the natal burrow, hind-foot length, growth until independence and juvenile survival. The grey-sided vole Myodes rufocanus exhibits male-biased dispersal as a means of avoiding incestuous matings. In natural populations of the bird Parus major great tit , inbreeding is likely avoided by dispersal of individuals from their birthplace, which reduces the chance of mating with a close relative.
Toads display breeding site fidelity , as do many amphibians. Individuals that return to natal ponds to breed will likely encounter siblings as potential mates. Although incest is possible, Bufo americanus siblings rarely mate. These toads likely recognise and actively avoid close kins as mates. Advertisement vocalisations by males appear to serve as cues by which females recognise their kin. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Sexual behavior of non-human animals.
This article is about the sexual behavior of non-human animals. For human sexual behavior, see Human sexual activity and Human sexuality. For other uses, see Animal sex disambiguation. Main article: Monogamous pairing in animals. See also: Evolution of monogamy. Main article: Polygyny in animals. Main article: Polyandry in nature. Main article: Polygynandry.
Main article: Bateman's principle. Main article: Seasonal breeder. Main article: Koinophilia. Main article: Copulation zoology. See also: Cuckoldry in fish. See also: Sequential hermaphroditism. Main article: Sexual cannibalism.
Play media. Main article: Sexual coercion. Main article: Non-reproductive sexual behaviour in animals. See also: Mating call. Further information: Mammalian reproduction and Social monogamy in mammalian species.
See also: Mating of gastropods. Main article: Humanzee. Main article: Inbreeding avoidance. Animals portal. Advanced biology. Oxford University Press. General Studies Manual. Pearson Education India. Behavioural ecology of teleost fishes.
Retrieved 26 August National Science Foundation. Animal Behaviour. Max Planck Research. Archived from the original PDF on 14 May Retrieved 24 April Annual Review of Ecology, Evolution, and Systematics. Black Ed. Canadian Journal of Zoology. Monogamy: Past and present. Reichard and C. Boesch Eds. The Myth of Monogamy. New York, NY: W. It's Not for the Birds of the Bees". The New York Times. Freeman and Co. Bibcode : PLoSO Mammal Review published January J Zool. Pietsch Bibcode : Natur.
Retrieved 18 November The Teaching Company. Retrieved 10 November Parental investment and sexual selection. Campbell Ed. Chicago, IL: Aldine. Accessed 14 March W Sexual conflict and partner manipulation in the banana slug, Ariolimax dolichophallus. Retrieved 13 February Animal Biology. Integrative and Comparative Biology.
Retrieved 11 February That means that the animal is physically and mentally more ready for sexual activities at some times than at others. But this does not mean that sexual activity will lead to injuries, fear or suffering, if it happens outside the rut period.
Cornell University Press. Retrieved 27 September Anatomical Record. Archived from the original PDF on 19 March Nature Reviews Urology. Neuroscience, exploring the brain. Journal of Neuroendocrinology. Hormones and Behavior. The Lab Rat Chronicles. New York: penguin group. March Science Watch. The Journal of Sexual Medicine. Essential Animal Behavior. Behavioral Neuroscience. Meisel, and B. Random House Publishing Group. Retrieved 28 May Applied Animal Behaviour Science. American Zoologist.
Behavioral and Brain Sciences. University of Bristol. Retrieved 26 October Archived from the original PDF on 27 February Det er derfor rimeligt at antage, at der er en eller anden form for behag eller tilfredsstillelse forbundet med akten. Journal of Theoretical Biology.
The Blind Watchmaker. Longman, London. Published in Penguin Books , , and Chapter 8, Explosions and Spirals. Retrieved 19 February Our opinion editor Amanda Gefter recently visited an exhibition entitled The Sex Lives of Animals , which seeks to overturn the idea that animals engage in sex purely for procreation.
So, here is a run-through of the huge diversity of sexual behaviours found in the animal kingdom. We begin with behaviours that are now fairly widely accepted in human society, such as promiscuity and homosexuality, before turning to stranger acts, such as necrophilia and bondage. By its nature, this article necessarily contains sexually graphic descriptions and video.
The theory of evolution predicts that, in many cases, promiscuity can be a good survival strategy. By mating with as many females as possible, males maximise the number of offspring they produce, and thus their chances of passing on their genes.
Still, some females are promiscuous, and the exhibition The Sex Lives of Animals sought to overturn these sexual stereotypes. For many species, particularly if the breeding season is short, promiscuity is the best way to pass on your genes.
Toads mate in a position called amplexus, in which the male mounts the female from behind and fertilises her eggs externally. This can result in the female being drowned, but assuming she survives, it can also result in her producing offspring by several fathers. Media reports of a frog with three heads may also have been an instance of multiple amplexus. Promiscuous sex can also be a form of social bonding. This is most famously observed in bonobos, a kind of chimpanzee.
Members of a bonobo troupe have sex with each other in pretty much every combination, and engage in a host of different sexual activities. Their societies are female-dominated and seem to be almost entirely non-violent. Sometimes animals can sleep around for far more prosaic reasons, though. Of course, many animals are prone to indulge too. Monkeys are notorious for it. There are so many videos along these lines on YouTube, one hardly knows which one to pick. Many animals can perform auto-fellatio — they are able to lick their own genitals.
This is sometimes done for non-sexual reasons, but not always. For instance, this video illustrates a kangaroo self-pleasuring. There is some evidence for concrete benefits. For example, spontaneous erections and masturbatory behaviour are common in stallions, which horse breeders try to prevent. Similarly, female short-nosed fruit bats sometimes fellate males during mating.
This prolongs the act of copulation, and may have other benefits. The book compiles information from the scientific literature, describing homosexual behaviours in more than species. Wikipedia lists the species , and an exhibition based on the book ran at the University of Oslo until late Among the more recent examples are the fabulous New York Central Park zoo penguins, Roy and Silo, two males who, after trying to incubate a rock, were given an egg and together raised the resultant chick, named Tango.
Not to mention the observation of two deep-sea octopuses mating. Researchers who studied the video realised that both individuals were male , and that they were actually from different species. Changing sex is a tricky business for humans, involving hormone injections and surgery, but some animals make it look easy. Transsexualism is particularly common among simple creatures like worms and slugs, but also among fish.
One example is a marine worm called Ophryotrocha puerilis puerilis , which starts out male but may become female. Large males are particularly likely to do so, as being large is an advantage for the females, but not the males. When two female gobi fish meet, one of them will often become male so that they can mate.
Switching back is less common, perhaps because there are higher costs involved, but it does happen. Snails and earthworms both do this. Self-fertilisation is less common than mutual mating — neither snails nor earthworms do it. Banana slugs, which live in North America and reach lengths of 25 centimetres, have no such inhibitions and regularly fertilise themselves. Only one fish species, the mangrove killifish , is known to self-fertilise.
Hermaphroditism is most common among slow-moving species , who are less likely to encounter prospective mates.