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Science & Sex!


Well non-human animal sexual behavior – but don’t worry, a column about the science of human sexual behavior is definitely in the works. (It will be yet another entry that I’ll warn my Dad not to read)

Now – onto the science of animal sex! It’s pretty crazy, so strap in.

Autoeroticism aka Spanking The Monkey, Flogging The Dolphin, Beating the Bishop, Goosing the Gherkin, etc (Please leave your favorite euphemisms in the comment section)

Masturbation has been observed* in both males and females of many different species (the list is way too long to put on here). A few creative ones: Some species of primates, sheep, kangaroos and goats can perform auto-fellatio (yep, on themselves), some birds simulate sex with patches of grass, porcupines and many primates use sticks and other inanimate objects as “ahem” marital aids. Bottlenose dolphins are well known for their interesting sexual behavior (See below: Coercive Sex). I have a Marine Biologist friend that works with bottlenose dolphins and she told me that one of their dolphins would “lie” against the tank jets and masturbate all day and they’d have to eventually poke it with a pool skimmer to get it to exercise or eat.

* Wikipedia, the helpful little informer that it is, even provides YouTube links to videos of animals masturbating. Needless to say – click at your own risk.

[via Bruce Bagemihl: Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity. St. Martin’s Press, 1999.]

Sexual Cannibalism

Sexual cannibalism is when the female eats and kills the male during or after sex. It has been observed in species of spiders, crustaceans and insects. The male mantis in the Mantis religiosa species has to have its head removed in order to ejaculate (It feels like a lot of these facts should be followed by a drum hit). Scientists have been unable to establish whether or not the males are aware of their fate when they start – poor chaps.

[via The American Naturalist]

Coercive Sex

What a horrible cartoon our parents let us watch. Unlike Pépe Le Pew (the premise of which was, “What if rape was kinda cute and French?”), skunks have not been observed participating in coercive sex. Some species that do, however, are various primates and bottlenose dolphins. It has been well documented that bottlenose dolphins form male alliances with each other to “herd” females for months at a time and eventually violently gang rape them. Dolphins also sometimes try to have sex with humans! Someone, please name your band Raped By Dolphins – the domain name is available.

[via Science Direct and Procedings of The National Academy of Sciences of the USA]


Certain species of penguins practice a form of prostitution! Waaaa? Apparently the females will trade sexual favors for rocks to build their nests. Isn’t that the plot for the porn parody of Happy Feet?

[via BBC]

Penis Fencing!

When I heard about this from my Biology major friends in college, I almost dropped my entire schedule just so I could take Zoology and learn about it. Penis Fencing – what a magnificent, hilarious phrase. Anyway, onto the science behind it. Certain species of hermaphroditic flatworms engage in this mating behavior, which involves a violent battle where the flatworms fence with their spiked two-headed penises. The winner is the flatworm who successfully pierces the skin of the others penis, injecting his genetic material and thereby becoming the “father”.

[via Nature]

Now I certainly didn’t come close to covering everything about the sexual behavior of animals, (it would take wayyyy too long) so I encourage all of you to spend some time reading this Wikipedia entry titled “Animal Sexual Behavior” because it’s fascinating – well if you’re fascinated by science (or sex). Also, Green Porno is a great series of short films created by and starring Isabella Rossellini, about how insects have sex. They are hilarious, creative, bizarre and truly informative (but also weirdly NSFW – even in puppet form, sex is sex).

Have fun! This kind of stuff makes for great nerd cocktail party banter!  =)

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  1. sluts fucked says:

    WOW just what I was looking for. Came here by searching for nsfw videos

  2. All of this reminds me of an Oatmeal cartoon. It’s a lovely story about male Angler Fish and how they get screwed.

  3. Alicia says:

    So, is my puffer fish masturbating on the thermostat in my fish tank?

  4. PoopyPants says:

    Creating a euphemism for masturbation is easy. Pick a verb as random as “Lynching”and just find a word with the same beginning letter for the most “clever” euphemism. It also works when the latter word is a animal.

    Lynching the Llama.

  5. Phillip Clark says:

    Yea come on dad, we all know you’ve spent your fair share of time punchin the panda

  6. Sarah Clark says:

    Walk it off, Dad – there’s a lot worse in the works.

  7. Father of Sarah says:

    Couldn’t you be the religion nerd?

  8. Amanda says:

    i love this article! haha omg is it weird how cool i think this is?

  9. Todd says:

    Pulling Pork

  10. Brian Nelsen says:

    Crankin’ the codpiece

  11. Sandy says:

    Sarah, I love you and I love your entries. This one was highly entertaining. 🙂

    The end.

  12. Bonnie says:

    Penis-fencing! I teach an animal diversity class and penis-fencing is A-number-one the students’ favorite thing to remember. We make them watch the “Shape of Life” videos which make the whole process way more epic by adding Gladiator-esque music to the background.

  13. Sarah Clark says:

    @GigDrummer – Paul & Storm reference, FTW!

    @ Andy – I’m thinking a penis with a fencing mask on

    @ Katie – That is terrifying! We used to have cicadas or locusts or something that would swarm our college once a year and I had no idea until I came back from class and our entire dorm door was covered with them. I thought it was the apocalypse or something.

  14. Bruhs says:

    Awesome… For the record, I was one of Sarah’s nerdy friends from college that would not shut-up about penis fencing. The name alone gives me wood. By the way, ever watched a horse masturbate? A stallion can flap his penis against his stomach hard enough over and over until he releases. This blog is right up my alley… has more for all you dirty nerdy peeps, or check me out @bindigok

    I love Sarah’s posts…great point about a skunk raping a cat, I could never understand how painting a white stripe on a cat made her look at all like a skunk…

  15. Katie says:

    Has anyone ever experienced Lovebugs? Their name is cute, but it’s the nastiest bug sex you’ll ever witness.

    Several years ago I was driving from Atlanta to New Orleans and ran into a wall of them that lasted for miles and miles and miles, and then I had to pump gas amongst them in backwoods Mississippi and I legitimately cried because I was so freaked out. (and bugs usually don’t scare me, but these things were swarming — and there wasn’t another gas station for almost 40 miles) It was mating season and it was a wall of bugs that fly around attached to each other en masse.

    Creepy bug orgy.

  16. anthony says:

    interesting article. green porno is soooo good! love isabella.

  17. mRuss says:

    Didn’t they imply Penis Fencing in that movie with the glow-in-the-dark condoms?

  18. I’m going to start a band called Penis Fencing. First album title will be “En Guarde!” The cover art I will leave to your imagination.

  19. gigdrummer says:

    Raped by Dolphins isthe name of my Hard and Phirm cover band!