11. Hippopotamus ritual — A literal s**t-sᴛᴏʀᴍ
ᴜʀɪɴᴇ and ғᴇᴄᴇs are the cologne of the hippo world. To impress female hippos, males don’t just ᴅᴇғᴇᴄᴀᴛᴇ and ᴜʀɪɴᴀᴛᴇ near them; they use spinning tails and some of the most powerful ꜰᴀʀᴛs on earth to fling the mess far and wide, to make sure all the females in the area can smell it. If he catches a female’s interest, she’ll raise her rear up out of the water to show she’s ready to reciprocate… by showering him in dung. Scientists call this “submissive ᴅᴇғᴇᴄᴀᴛion.”
12. Sage grouse: The other Alberta “Stampede”
Every spring, sage grouses that are native to the Canadian Prairies gather in large groups at a “lek”. The males engage in competitive strutting displays, puffing out special air sacs in their ᴄʜᴇsᴛs and making specialized sounds. The females gather around to watch, and choose who they like best. And they generally tend to agree: 80 per cent of the females ᴍᴀᴛe with the one or two most dominant males.
13. Prairie voles: Super-loyal, best when sober
Prairie voles are among the most monogamous and affectionate mammals. They can sense when their partner is stressed and shower them with affection. They spend most of their time together, and that’s usually how they like it: the couple will chase away other voles of either s.ᴇ .x that approach them. Except when ᴀʟᴄᴏʜᴏʟ’s involved. According to Oregon researchers who tested their fidelity while “under the influence”, ᴀʟᴄᴏʜᴏʟ makes female voles want to be closer to their ᴍᴀᴛes, but can lead male voles to stray.
14. Humpback whales: Saltwater “arena” rock
Like many birds, male humpback whales sing to attract females. However, unlike most animals, they do so in chorus. When looking for ᴍᴀᴛes, males gather in large groups in areas researchers call “arenas”. They then spread out and all sing together to let the women know where they are.
15. Manakins: The wingman
Manakin seduction is a double-act. Males approach in pairs, sing a duet and perform a dance together. After watching the double-act, the female decides if she wants to ᴍᴀᴛe. However, only the alpha of the pair ever gets to ᴍᴀᴛe. The beta is a chaste sidekick, but he may not always remain so. Acting as a beta helps a manakin learn the moves to use if he becomes an alpha.
16. Nursery web spiders: “Bring snacks”
The male nursery web spider comes bringing gifts of ᴄᴀʀᴄᴀssᴇs of prey wrapped in silk, which he gives to the female before ᴄᴏᴘᴜʟᴀᴛɪɴɢ. Once thought to be a thoughtful show of parental investment, scientists now believe it’s meant to prevent her from eating him. We’re not sure why it can’t be both.
17. Clownfish: Ғɪɢʜᴛ to get/be the girl
All clownfish are born male and spend their lives ғɪɢʜᴛing their way up a strict hierarchy determined by size and ᴀɢɢʀᴇssɪon. But the clownfish that are tough enough to reach the very top of their group get a special prize: they transition into female form and become the only female in the group. They then ᴍᴀᴛe with the second-baddest clownfish on the ladder. They alone are allowed to ᴍᴀᴛe.
18. Bonobos: The free-love ape
Whereas a lot of animal s.ᴇ .x seems purely reproductive, bonobos are promiscuous, engage in a wide variety of recreational s.ᴇ .x-acts with members of both s.ᴇ .xes, and aren’t particularly jealous. They use s.ᴇ .x to make friends, form group bonds, and as currency. Also, they are one of the few non-human animals to ᴄᴏᴘᴜʟᴀᴛe face-to-face.
19. The Octopus’ identity reveal
Abdopus auleatus has a complex ᴍᴀᴛing culture. Some males live in adjacent dens to their female ᴍᴀᴛes to guard them. Others, known as “sneaker” males, sometimes disguise themselves as females to slip by the guards and ᴍᴀᴛe with the female. However, avoiding the wrath of other males isn’t the only reason sneakers change colouration. Octopuses are notoriously anti-social. Scientists believe that males may also impersonate females to avoid being ᴄᴀɴɴɪʙᴀʟized by them.
20. Lovebirds: The couple you hate
Yes, “lovebirds” is actually the name for these small colourful parrots. In courtship, couples stick close together, preening each other and chirping. They build elaborate nests together. They feed each other (by regurgitating into the other’s mouth). They also ᴍᴀᴛe for life. It may seem a bit much, but don’t separate them. When separated from their ᴍᴀᴛes, lovebirds have been known to ᴅɪᴇ of a broken heart.