الأحد، أكتوبر 08، 2006

Animals & affection

3 years ago I studied Schistosoma spp. ,commonly known as blood-flukes and bilharzia. One thing in particular amazed me; The fact that the male had what’s known as “gynaecophoric canal”, in which he embraces the female and moves around with her.
Never mind the disappointment I had on seeing it actually under Light microscope, since it looked like nothing but 2 pieces of thread. But the idea itself had a very romantic notion to it.

Since then I looked for gestures of affection in the Animal world, not only parental ones since they are very common, but ones between individuals of different sexes.
While searching up this, I came upon a lot of very interesting facts about mating and courtship of some animals. It was simply fascinating!

Here are a few examples from the very minute, microscopic animals, to the very large ones that can’t be missed:




Male Schistosoma embracing female.







In the world of the seahorse, it is the male that becomes pregnant. However, it is still the female that produces the eggs and the male that produces the sperm. The female deposits her eggs into a brood pouch on the male's tail. During the male's 3 weeks of pregnancy, the male and his female mate will greet each other every morning. They sidle up to each other, change colour to a brighter shade and begin a slow twirl dance around a few sea grass shoots.






The male, alone, nurtures the embryos (fertilized eggs) until they are released in a ''string'' of miniature seahorses.
Males still, however, compete for the females as is the case with other animal species. When competing for a female, two males use a special form of combat. Each aims his snout at the other and delivers a head butt with an upward snap. The recipient keels over backwards but swings upright again and counterattacks.
Tail wrestling can also be observed between two males. The two thrash about until one surrenders' by turning a dark colour and flattening himself on the seabed
.









Nudibranchs , commonly known as sea slugs, have extraordinary color patterns.
As can be seen in the picture, 2 individuals of sea slugs mating.











Dolphins are among the most sexual of animals. When aroused, a dolphin male may mate several times an hour, often with the same female but not always. But even though the male may play and then swim away, female dolphins can usually depend on their pods to help protect the baby dolphin .
Dolphins are among the only animals that have assisted birthing; when a dolphin is giving birth, she’s often assisted by another female dolphin who acts as midwife.




Male satin bowerbird
The most notable characteristic of bowerbirds is the extraordinarily complex behaviour of males, which is to build a bower to attract mates. Depending on the species, the bower ranges from a circle of cleared earth with a small pile of twigs in the center to a complex and highly decorated structure of sticks and leaves - usually shaped like a walkway, a small hut or a maytree -, into and around which the male places a variety of objects he has collected. These objects - always strikingly colored - may include hundreds of shells, leaves, flowers, feathers, stones, berries, and even discarded plastic items, pieces of glass or similar things.
The bird will spend hours carefully sorting and arranging his collection, with each thing in a specific place. If an object is moved while the bowerbird is away he will put it back in its place.
No two bowers are the same, and the collection of objects reflects the personal taste of each bird and its capability to procure unusual and rare items (going as far as stealing them from neighboring bowers).
At mating time, the female will go from bower to bower, watching as the male owner conducts an often elaborate mating ritual, and inspecting the quality of the bower. Inevitably, many females will end up selecting the same male, and many underperforming males will be left without mates. ( for more on that bird see wikipedia).

Examples are endless, and the more you investigate the animal world, the more impressed u become. One could see the similarities between Our behaviour, and that of other animals, which is fascinating, but not really surprising since we do belong to that wide group.