Friday, May 2, 2008

Leggy Lotharios and Underwater Bling, Flirting among sea creatures.

Several articles have come out recently that show some entertaining and charming mating rituals among sea-creatures.
Octopus couples hold hands!!!
For decades, scientists have viewed octopuses as unromantic loners, with mating habits nearly devoid of complex behavior. But new research from the University of California, Berkeley, has found that at least one species of octopus engages in such sophisticated lovemaking tactics as flirting, passionate handholding and keeping rivals at arms' length.

"This is not a unique species of octopus, which suggests others behave this way," said Roy Caldwell, a professor of integrative biology at UC Berkeley and co-author of the study.

In the wild, researchers observed macho octopuses that didn't just mate with the first female that crossed their path. Many picked out a specific sex partner and jealously guarded her den for several days, warding off rivals to the point of strangling them if they got too close. When flirting or fighting, they would signal their manliness by displaying striped body patterns.

But Cephalopods were not the only creatures whose dating displays were analyzes by scientific voyeurs...

Dolphins Love their Bling:

Amazon river dolphins, also known as botos or pink river dolphins (Inia geoffrensis), live mostly off fish in the Amazon River basin, with the occasional turtle or crab.

The botos had often seemed to play with items such as sticks or lumps of hard clay, thrashing them against the surface of the water or tossing them with flicks of their heads.

One day scientists noticed that three botos that held objects in their mouths were all adult males. This prompted speculation that such behavior might not be play at all.

Martin and his colleagues found the overwhelming majority of those who carried items were adult males, which are larger and pinker than females.

"It's particularly interesting that the complexity of this behavior in these dolphins is considerably greater than that in chimps," Martin said. "Chimp males break off branches, thrash them around and make a lot of noise to show off how macho they are — bit like blokes with big motorbikes and Ferraris, I guess. Botos, however, are much more subtle, and often use their objects in what appears to be a ritualistic way."

Males typically held objects when there were adult females present.

"This species has a mythical reputation for enchanting and seducing women in Amazon communities, and you could believe that they really are enchanting their own females with this object-carrying behavior," Martin said.

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