#3. Albatrosses Date for Years Before Making a Commitment
Of all the things that make us human, the ability to choose our partner because we actually like them sets us far apart from other animals, who largely choose mates simply because they're nearby and no competition is around to break their spine if they get too close. We can date somebody for as long as we like and either kick them to the curb if it doesn't work out or take the relationship to the next level if it does. We can even get engaged and then hover in that stage for years.
Well, so do albatrosses, so don't feel too special. And compared to some of us, who decide that one or two dates is enough before the boning commences, these birds are fucking picky. It's a good thing albatrosses are some of the longest-lived birds on record, because their courtship can take an eternity. The reason is that each albatross has a series of basic movements programmed into its head, and if it and a potential mate can put these moves together, then they're meant for each other, and the time for hot egg-making action commences.
But it's not just a simple jump here or beak wave there. The average albatross lambada often takes hours to complete and can involve intricate sequences of bowing and bobbing, beak circling, bill clacking, Saturday Night Fever-style sky pointing, and dozens of other complex moves. A dating couple can take forever practicing their dance moves, up to two years in some cases. It's a wonder any eggs get fertilized at all, honestly.
Each pair's particular dance is unique to them, and if one of them messes up too often, the deal is off. If they can get it right, however, then it becomes a sort of "language" that only the pair can understand.
Kind of like those creepy twins from high school.
If everything get synchronized just right, then comes marriage, then comes one measly stinking egg in a baby carriage. Seriously, that's the payoff, as that's all the female can manage per year. And unless you're one of those circus stories that took fertility drugs so you could have 10 kids at once, this slow-poke breeding is shockingly human.
You know what else is shockingly human? The fact that post-marriage, the couple ceases to give a shit. Oh, they'll stay together for the kids, but they will rarely, if ever, dance again. They've already proven themselves as solid mates, so there's really no need to impress anyone anymore. There's some preening here and there, but otherwise it's the bird equivalent of a man growing a beer gut and watching SportsCenter all day while his woman watches soaps in the other room while still wearing her curlers and bathrobe.
#2. Daddy Longlegs Tell Their Mates What Gets Them Hot
Animal sex, by and large, is not meant to feel good; it's simply meant to pass on genes in a more or less convenient way. Obviously, we don't feel that way, but surprisingly, neither do daddy longlegs, the winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award for Looking Creepy as Fuck but Actually Being Totally Harmless. And perhaps even more surprisingly, they're not shy about telling their partner what they like and what they don't.
For example, many like being called "Big Daddy," purely for identification purposes.
A female longlegs is capable of carrying sperm from many different males at the same time. However, she can only choose one to make babies from. So, in what would be an amazing season of The Bachelorette if it weren't a bunch of spiders fucking, the female chooses whose sperm gets the go-ahead based on who pleasures her the most.
To pull this off, the male sticks his pedipalps inside of her and starts squeezing out sperm. A pedipalp, by the way, is an extra leg with a dick at the end hanging out near the spider's mouth. Hey, we didn't invent spiders, so please direct all your questions to evolution. The female responds by stroking her own, presumably dickless, pedipalp against her fangs, making a sound like squeaking leather.
Squeaking leather, conveniently, gets him hot.
The squeak isn't just the sound of palp against flesh; it's designed to help the male adjust his squeezes to her liking. In short, she's directing him. If he squeezes just right and changes things up enough to keep her satisfied, then his seed will slip all the way in, and hundreds and hundreds of little tiny spider offspring shall be sired.
If he's too rough or slow, though, then she'll squeak insistently until he softens up a tad and gets his rhythm right. If he doesn't listen, the female will reject his sperm and send him on his way. And if this happens, he'd better hope she doesn't squawk about it to her single girlfriends.
#1. Black Vultures Beat the Crap Out of Home Wreckers
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No one likes a cheater. If you're caught fooling around behind your lover's back, expect to be ostracized by their friends at best, and get the absolute snot beaten out of you at worst. Our success rate with fidelity may be spotty, but we still bristle when somebody breaks whatever vows and promises they made to another. And it turns out we're not alone in that regard; black vultures abhor cheating, too, and will go to incredible (and incredibly violent) lengths to ensure that philanderers receive their just due.
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Philanderers lose all rights to use "black vulture" as their comic book villain or band name.
Yes, ugly, disgusting vultures actually mate for life, a practice that at least 50 percent of us sincerely believe in. But plenty of species do that, so what makes the vulture so special? Well, they take their monogamy extremely seriously. When Mom or Dad takes part in some good ol'-fashioned home wrecking and the other vultures find out, the entire group delivers an intense ass-whooping on the philanderer. And vulture beatings are no joke under normal circumstances, like fighting over roadkill. When getting violent ensures that players stop playing, you can be sure the beatings are extra vicious.
Why do they do this? Well, raising a black vulture chick requires both parents to actively participate, and not just because it's really hard for one parent to properly bestow the wisdom behind flying around in a circle and waiting for dinner to die. A vulture egg must be sat on by both parents, alternating every 24 hours. In addition, both parents share feeding responsibilities for the first year, making single parenting all but impossible in Vultureland. So cheaters aren't just being dicks, they're actively putting children's lives in grave danger. And as we well know, if there's one thing a vulture values, it's life.
When he's not revealing the secrets of animal sex, Mr. Yee reveals the secrets of the universe in his daily fortune cookie. He also sells T-shirts that you want to buy. E. Reid Ross is a columnist at Man Cave Daily and defiles comics with a few friends over at RealToyGun.com.
Related Reading: Sex in the animal kingdom isn't always this familiar. Take the female sand beetle. She can't have sex without destroying her genitals. It gets worse: giraffes are all about giving each other golden showers. If that's quite enough sleaze for you for one day, why not wind down and read about how some spiders give each other back-rubs.