Australian photographer Jason Edwards, who took the images off Tonga, was stunned by the “brief but tender” copulation.
While humpback “heat runs” - in which 15m-long, 40-tonne males fight to win a female’s attention - have been well documented, and often wrongly described as mating, this is the first time the actual act of copulation has been photographed, the National Geographic Channel said.
“It was amazing. There were four or five males vying for her attention and while the larger ones were busy jostling each other, the smallest one swam away with the female,” Mr Edwards said yesterday.
“Their coupling lasted less than 30 seconds, which might explain why it’s never been captured on film before.”
That’s a whole new meaning to “absentee father”. Put yourself in a scenario. You get to have sex one time, and if you stick around too long you’ll get eaten. You want to make that one time count, and you’d also like to make sure that no one else got the opportunity to reproduce with your chosen lady.
Solution? If you’re an orb-web spider, it appears that breaking off your penis inside of the female and running away is just what Dr. Evolution ordered. It saves his legs, it prevents other males from copulating, and it allows him to fight to protect her. Even if she does want to eat him in the first place. How romantic.
Violent mating behaviors are actually rather common. Hermaphroditic flatworms engage in “penis fencing” to decide who will be the mother and who will be the father of their offspring. Honeybees’ genitals explode and break off inside the queen in a manner similar to the spider. Bedbugs simply impale the female with their penises and deposit sperm through the opening. And banana slugs have such large penises that if they freak out the female with one too large, they risk getting their organ chewed off.
(via Nature News)