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Animal Love Stories


The natural world is filled with animal love stories with different plot lines, similar goals, and unfortunately not always the same endings. There are many strategies used in nature to attract mates including looks, song, dance, smell, and even building techniques. Each species has their own challenges to overcome and tactics to demonstrate their credibility as the worthy individual to carry on their genetic line, and these behaviors have been going on for many years. So what are some of these unique animal love stories? Let’s get into it!

When it comes to courtship displays, the bowerbird is a go to example of the great efforts some males put in to win the affections of a female. Bowerbirds build elaborate tunnels with grasses on the ground. This tunnel acts as the seating for the females. Then to set the stage, the bowerbird flattens the area around the tunnel and scatters various items around to catch the eye of the female. Blue colored objects are highly prized for these arrangements because of the rarity of blue colored items in nature. Some bowerbirds have even used blue bottle caps in their displays. Once the female is lured to the site and enters the tunnel, the show can begin. The male puts on an elaborate show with dancing and vocal songs. The female takes into account the quality of the tunnel and stage, as well as the performance from the male, and if all is satisfactory, she accepts the male as a mate.

Above Photo by @theprehistoric.store

But it's not only birds that go to great efforts to win over a female. A recent study published in the journal Nature has suggested that some dinosaurs, specifically theropods, may have had similar courtship displays. Theropods were the two legged carnivores including velociraptors and T-Rex. In cretaceous sites in Colorado, evidence was found of theropod nest scraping behavior, which is seen in bird species today including shorebirds, ducks, and vultures. Nest scraping is a way for males to show that they can make a quality nest for the female’s eggs. For example, a male sandpiper can make many scrape nest sites for a female before she is satisfied and ready to mate. Fossilized scrapes in rocks formed by theropods similar to the form of the scrap nests formed by their descendants today, clue us into the possible behavior of animals that have been extinct for millions of years.

Above photo by @simplyantarctica

Now courtship in the animal kingdom is not always as simple as male and female. In fact, there are over 450 documented species with same sex couples, including the Adelie Penguin. Same sex penguin couples have been seen exhibiting mating behaviors with each other. The idea of homosexuality has been called an evolutionary paradox because of the idea that the biological purpose of life is to reproduce, and same sex couples cannot reproduce. But studies are now finding that homosexuality in the animal world has provided an opportunity for young to be adopted by another couple without young in case the biological parents are not able to care for their young for any reason.

Unfortunately not all animal love stories have a happy ending. When a male praying mantis finds a female, and she accepts him as a mate, he hangs onto her back while fertilizing her eggs. But unfortunately for the male, it's very common for the female to start eating him during the act, most commonly the head. Interestingly, the male has a secondary brain in his abdomen which keeps the fertilization process going. The advantage of this behavior is that the protein acquired from eating the male provides protein for the female to produce healthy offspring.

There are many strategies and outcomes when it comes to mating in the animal world. Some animals go to great efforts to attract a mate, and these behaviors have been present in the animal world for many years. When it comes to finding pairs, evolution has not only selected pairs that can reproduce, but also couples that can provide supplemental parenting along with other benefits to the species. While not all animal love stories end happily for everyone, it all leads to the same goal of promoting the success of the next generation and the continuation of the species as a whole.


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