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Penis Fencing? The 10 Weirdest Facts About Sex In the Animal Kingdom

Here's a glimpse at some of the world's weirdest mating rituals.

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Jeepers, they make ice cream for dogs and clothes for cats. Can no one invent a ferret Hitachi wand? 

6. Penis Fencing

It looks like two scrunchies having a fight. Actually the flatworms in that NatGeo Wild “World’s Weirdest” video are quite pretty, but what they’re doing isn’t.

All flatworms are hermaphrodites and their mating routine is definitely more fighting than loving; in fact, it’s referred to as penis fencing. They try to jab each other using their penises as weapons. When one is successful it ejaculates the sperm, which the other absorbs, forcing it, rather miserably if the video is any indication, into motherhood.

Ever seen a scurnchie mope off into the sunset looking for groceries while the father flutters away without a care in the world? It’s damn depressing. 

7. Star 69

Earthworms are both unassuming and icky at the same time, like those guys you see who are either really nice or they're serial killers. The same goes for an earthworm's sex life. On one hand they’re kind of cool. On the other the word “slime tube” comes up a little more often than is usually desirable. 

Earthworms are simultaneous hermaphrodites, meaning they have the reproductive organs of both sexes, writes  Josh Clark of How Stuff Works. Spiffy! Nothing like having options. To mate they get into what, for humans, would be a 69 position, then excrete enough mucous to form a “slime tube” around their bodies. Each ejaculates sperm that the other takes and then the pair goes their separate, slimy ways. 

Slime tube part two happens when they get ready to lose their clitellum, a band each earthworm has around its body that excretes more slime. As it slides up, it passes over the egg sac, which sticks to it, then over the receptacle holding the paramour’s sperm which also sticks to it, and when eggs and sperm meet, voila!— fertilization takes place. The band comes off the top of the worm’s head like a T-shirt and it forms a little pod from which up to 20 little worms will emerge in two to three weeks. 

With that kind of speed and numbers it’s not surprising, as Clark writes that vermicomposters say their worm populations can double in 60 to 90 days.

8. Very Oral Sex

Some crazy animal sex, like the swingers club that is the life of the  bonobo, has become common  knowledge. Lots of people know that bonobos have sex with the same frequency the rest of us use Google. Another weird animal sex fact most of us know is that there are some insects and arachnids who eat their mates. 

But do you know why?  Carl Zimmer, writing in the New York Times in 2006, says the reasons can vary among species faced with “different evolutionary pressures.” One study showed that in Chinese mantises, males were the main source of food for females to begin with.

Male redback spiders are a different and more suicidal story. A male redback spider starts mating with a female, then flips himself onto her fangs. She starts to cannibalize him and then he, kind of amazingly, starts the courting process all over again. After the second mating he will die. Researchers have found that the cannibalism gives the male time to plug the female’s sperm receptacle so no other male can mate with the female. Cannibalized males mate twice as long and have twice the reproductive success rate of non-cannibalized males. They do it for offspring!

Jennifer Welsh of LiveScience writes that hunger—for sex in males, for food in females—may drive preying mantis behavior with males more willing to take a risk with a hungry female if the males are sexually starved.

 
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