mating

How cougars find each other in a vast landscape of mountains, raging water, thick forests, and rocky bluffs is one of life’s great mysteries for those of us who study mountain lions. I’ve spent many long hours contemplating this subject, and here’s what I’ve decided: it might be easier than we think. I’m speculating here,...

Meet the Indian purple frog, also known as the pig-nosed frog. Only formally discovered in 2003, the colorful amphibian is an endangered species native to the mountains of India’s Western Ghats. With a chubby, purple body and pointed, piglike snout, it’s unlike any other frog on Earth. Some of the purple frog’s unusual looks are adaptations...

Forget his n’ hers watches this Valentine’s Day: A species of lemur prefers a set of matching scents. In a move that can only make master perfumers green with envy, pairs of Coquerel’s sifakas (Propithecus coquereli) that have mated and produced offspring alter their natural scents to smell alike. Primatologists at the Duke Lemur Center in Durham,...

Finding true love is difficult no matter what species you were born into—but at least humans don’t have to worry about being eaten on a first date. Black widow spider and scorpion females famously kill and sometimes eat males after sex. Of course, not all animal courtship is risky or dominated by females, “but in the science...

An egg-laying, spiny mammal with a four-headed penis is already pretty bizarre, but it turns out short-beaked echidnas are even stranger than we thought. Weighing up to nine pounds (four kilograms) and resembling a big hedgehog, the short-beaked echidna is one of only three species of monotremes—or egg-laying mammals—left in the world, along with the platypus...

Male túngara frogs (Physalemus pustulosus) are the romantic type. Instead of roaming around looking for mates, these tiny Central and South American rain forest amphibians sit in puddles singing love songs, attracting females that flock to the aquatic crooner’s home. The frog’s calls have an unintended effect: They create ripples that draw the attention of predators lurking in...

Forget Miley Cyrus: When it comes to twerking, spiders can save their lives by shaking their booties, a new study says. Scientists have found that male black widows move their bodies in a certain way to let females know of their presence—and avoid becoming their next meal. (Also see “Surprise! Male Spiders Eat Females, Too.”)...

By Bradley Balukjian Thousands of feet under the sea, bone worms give new meaning to the song “It’s Raining Men.” These frilly pink creatures live on whale carcasses in harems that make free lovers of the 1960s look tame—up to 607 males cohabitating with a single female. That’s only possible space-wise because the males are...

What does this face say to you? Quite a lot, if you’re a Cerataphora lizard. New research on this little-known and much endangered genus of agamid lizard, which is found only in the tropical lowland and mountain cloud forests of Sri Lanka, is poised to shed a great deal of light on these creatures’ unusual horns. Some...

By James Owen The only praying mantis native to New Zealand has developed a fatal attraction for a cannibal invader whose females devour its mates after sex, scientists report. Males of the New Zealand mantis (Orthodera novaezealandiae) are being seduced into serving themselves up as meals to females of the springbok mantis (Miomantis caffra), a...

The Marquis de Sade had nothing on this critter—a sea slug that makes out by stabbing potential mates between the eyes and, researchers suspect, drugging them. Besides having a penis, the sea slug—an as-yet undescribed species from Australia’s Great Barrier Reef—is also armed with a hypodermic device for injecting chemicals that possibly make its partners...

When it comes to choosing a mate, even lizards have certain standards. Tracy Langkilde, an associate professor of biology at Penn State University, and Lindsey Swierk, a graduate student in Langkilde’s lab, recently looked at the relationship between body-color patterning and mating behavior in the fence lizard Sceloporus undulatus, and found that the sex lives...

  Genitals are useful for transferring sperm, but why stop there? Some animals have evolved unusual and creative ways to use their naughty bits to trick predators or attract mates. Recently, scientists discovered that hawkmoths have an unusual defense against bat sonar—by rubbing their genitals together, the moths produce ultrasonic sounds of their own. These...

Move over, Chanel No. 5. You’ve got a new competitor: The scent of bile is driving female sea lampreys crazy, a new study says. Bile wasn’t always an alluring scent—not even to sea lampreys, a type of parasitic fish. Millions of years ago it started out as a digestive aid, breaking down the fats in lampreys’...

Move over, Chanel No. 5. You’ve got a new competitor: The scent of bile is driving female sea lampreys crazy, a new study says. Bile wasn’t always an alluring scent—not even to sea lampreys, a type of parasitic fish. Millions of years ago it started out as a digestive aid, breaking down the fats in lampreys’...