And what is with The Times' Other Latest Obsession?
May 8, 2007 03:33 PM
And no, I don't mean preppies. I mean animals and their love lives. On April 30, it was the ducks:
Dr. Brennan was oblivious to bird phalluses until 1999. While working in a Costa Rican forest, she observed a pair of birds called tinamous mating. “They became unattached, and I saw this huge thing hanging off of him,” she said. “I could not believe it. It became one of those questions I wrote down: why do these males have this huge phallus?” ...
Gazing at the enormous organs, she asked herself a question that apparently no one had asked before. “So what does the female look like?” she said. “Obviously you can’t have something like that without some place to put it in. You need a garage to park the car.”
And then on May 3 it was the frogs:
Then Mr. Noonan said in a low voice, “Hey, come look at this.”
The glare of his flashlight showed a male frog locked onto the back of a female twice his size.
“They’re in amplexus,” Mr. Barker said, using the polite biological term, and the Latin word, for embrace.
Some embrace. It’s more like a lock hold. The male atop the female grasps her with his forelegs and hangs on for dear life as he fertilizes the eggs she releases into the water, all the while fending off other males trying to depose him.
“Look at them!” Mr. Barker said as we watched four or five desperate males fling themselves onto the mating pair, only to get a quick kick in the gut or go somersaulting over the female’s head.
And today it's the last giant tortoise in the Galapagos:
A few years later, in 1993, there was briefly a companion known as “Lonesome George’s girlfriend,” but she was not a tortoise. She was a 26-year-old graduate student in zoology from Switzerland named Sveva Grigioni.
By coating her hands in the genital secretions of female tortoises and gently stroking him, she managed to demonstrate a couple of times (in the course of several months’ work) that George was capable of an erection. But whereas her touch could induce other male tortoises to reach orgasm within a few minutes, with George she never managed to collect any sperm.
What the hell? And where is this editorial trend heading next?