Sex in the Animal Kingdom or Are Humans the Sexiest of All Species?
Let me be honest. I see no option but to turn to the subject of sex (what else?) to increase readership. Previous attempts at humour, religion, politics, birding, nature and what have you, have met with little success. So as politics is to the scoundrel, sex is to the writer–the last refuge. My research shows that there are many more experts on human sexuality than animal sexuality. As we all know, animals do not write about their sex lives (or anything else for that matter), so let me try to help.
Well now that you know the raison d’être for this piece, let’s start with the obvious. What exactly does being the sexiest mean? Quantity, quality, sexual prowess, technique, chemistry? Perhaps a combination of them all?
The progress of scientific research has always posed a challenge to conventional wisdom. For example, we have believed forever and a day, that animals have sex just for the sake of species propagation. New research shows that animals engage in sexual behaviour that at the very least rivals that of human beings.
How Often Do You Do It?
When the lioness is ovulating, the king of beasts may respond by having sex around 200 times in 2 to 3 days. That is an average of one orgasm every 15 to 20 minutes. All quickies, as he lasts just a minute. A serial premature ejaculator, one could say. But who am I to pass judgment ? The lioness seems quite happy. Certainly seems a case of quantity over quality, though. During this period, they do not eat or hunt. They do have to slake their thirst however, the lion having to keep one eye on the lioness, just to ensure a competitor doesn't lap her up while he’s lapping up the water.
Are You Compelled to Engage in Death-defying Sex?
I recall a Marcello Mastroianni movie in which he feels aroused only in dangerous situations. With the result we see him balancing precariously on balcony ledges and doing other death-defying feats before being able to consummate his love.
Marcello Mastroianni - one of World Cinema's Great Lovers
In the animal world, some of the species that defy death in order to mate are dragon lizards, toads, and sometimes black widow spiders.
The Lake Eyre Dragon Lizard
At the website www.popsci.com, you will find a delightful article (delightful that is, unless you happen to be a female dragon lizard, in which case you may beg to differ) on the sexual antics of the male. It seems he gets this insurmountable urge to bite her neck before indulging in sex. He has to be careful not to get over-excited as he can pierce her spinal cord, possibly causing her death in flagrante delicto. Sure human beings exchange love bites around the sensitive neck area, but I doubt whether any bites, including those of Dracula, have ever caused spinal damage.
Madam Lizard - Bright Side Up
Interestingly, the female can feign a headache and evade unwanted sex by simply flipping over onto her back whereby she cannot be violated. The only risk being that her bright-orange belly may attract predators. Screwed if she does, screwed if she does'nt.
Toad trying amplexus on finger
Like many animal species, male toads mount from behind–the rear entry position. In some situations, several males may climb on together, possibly mistaking the proceedings for a mountaineering expedition. This, in scientific terminology, is called multiple amplexus. I’m not too sure the female is impressed by the jargon, though because this sometimes results in her being drowned. How many unhappy, widower toads would that leave? No wonder male toads croak so much. If she survives, the young tadpole offspring would be from several fathers. Wonder who they wish on Father’s Day.
Multiple Amplexus in Common Indian Toad
Little Miss Muffet’s Spider
Everyone has heard of the black widow spider and how the male risks his life to pass on his genes. But there is good news for the male. Research shows the female will mate, then kill and eat the male, only occasionally. No idea what the odds are like. Perhaps it is the poor performers who cop it. Who knows? It could also be a case of if you can't make her come, you're gone.
If you want the gory details, the female turns her former lover into liquid by injecting digestive enzymes into the dead male and then sucking the goo. Gooood Lord!
More Than One
This fact may surprise you as it did me, but there are animals with multiple penises. Our friend the Lake Eyre dragon lizard is quite a star performer in this drama. As if being a potential sexual killer isn't enough, he also has two penises to make a double whammy. Sharks have two, too. Flatworms have them in dozens with the result they often bite each others’ off with very little ill-feeling. What’s a penis or two between friends?
The jury is still out though, on whether having more than one penis is good news or not.
The Long and Short of It
Ever since Adam discovered his appendage thanks to the naughty things he did with Eve, the penis has fascinated men (and hopefully women). In the animal kingdom, the biggest penis belongs to the Blue Whale, the current champion being an 8-foot long one. No wonder Captain Ahab behaved the way he did. It is now clear that Moby's Dick was responsible for all the harpoons being flung around! Females are believed to convey by whale song, “I’m having a whale of a time”, while cavorting with males in the ocean.
In relation to body size however, the humble barnacle (a relative of the crab and such like) is the clear winner with a penis that grows eight times its body size. No reason for him to be crabby, I guess. At the other end of the scale is the common shrew, whose penis measures just 0.2 inches--when erect that is. No wonder then that their behaviour is shrewish all the time.
Another interesting fact is that most birds do not have penises. But there is one bird that has a penis shaped like a corkscrew, the longest recorded being a 17 inch whopper. This is the Argentine lake duck. So the next time you can’t find the wine bottle opener, you know where to go–South America.
To Bonobo or not to Bonobo
New York, New York
There is an exhibition at the Museum of Sex in New York, which has sculptures of animals engaging in group sex, masturbation, prostitution and other sexual behaviours. The purpose of the exhibition is to show that animals also enjoy sex for pleasure.
Some recorded observations:
• Red-sided garter snakes engage in orgies.
• More than 470 animal species indulge in homosexual behavior.
• Female bean weevils mate just so that they can drink the male ejaculate to wet their parched throats. Cheers to that.
• The Bonobo chimpanzee is known to be the closest relative of the human sharing more than 98% of the genetic profile. Bonobos engage in sex acts so often and with such variety and partner combinations, that Casanova would have been happy taking lessons from the Bonobos. In fact, Bonobos have sex with virtually all group members except perhaps close relatives, though some reports speak of sex among mothers and mature sons (shades of Oedipus).
So Who Wins?
In order to decide whether humans win or animals, here is a set of questions:
Do you know of anyone who has had 200 orgasms in 2 days?
Has anyone you know turned into liquid after sex?
Ever seen a man with a penis shaped like a corkscrew?
Ever seen a six-foot tall man with a 48 foot long penis?
Ever met a woman who refused intercourse from the rear, then turned over to reveal an orange belly?
If your answer to all five is no, I’m afraid the animals win. Hands down or belly up.
With grateful thanks to Sally's Trove for lending her critical eye and considerable knowledge to improve this hub.