With the last of the Christmas decorations taken down everywhere except the most Jesusly of towns, it’s easy to get depressed this time of year. Around this time every year, we’re reminded of this fact by various news media pointlessly debating which day of the year is scientifically proven to be the most depressing. But whichever arbitrary calendar date this may be, it’s pretty much accepted that it’s sometime around mid to late January. The joy and cheer of listening to your family members argue over which political party hates America more is now a fading memory, replaced by nothing but brutally frigid air, and the fourth stage of grief from another season of Browns football.
While we don’t have any real annual milestones took look forward to until spring comes (which here in Cleveland typically happens an excruciating three and a half months from now), we do have Valentine’s Day coming up in just a few short weeks. Unless of course you happen to be single, in which case you’ll likely be buying several pounds the discounted candy on Feb. 15 in a futile attempt to cope with your eternal aloneness. So, for those of you who happen to fall into such a category, I offer you six examples of animals whose sex lives make breakups seem pretty okay. For instance…
6) Mating Plugs
In the world of biology, scientists have a term for animal versions of the controlling douchebag who’s always telling his girlfriend which guys she can and can’t hang out with. Well, not exactly, but they do have a term for that type of behavior. They call it “passive mate guarding.” While you may be thinking of, let’s say, a squirrel, because squirrels are funny, violently telling other male squirrels to stay away from his squirrelfriend, that’s only part of the story.
This douchebag squirrel, who I’d like you to imagine for the purposes of this narrative is wearing a black leather jacket and sunglasses (because you are now doing exactly that whether you want to or not), decides to ensure that he becomes his lady friend’s baby daddy. And by that, I mean he literally plugs her nether regions up with nasty squirrel goo. You know, so no one else can knock her up. Or at least, to give his potential children a head start in the most important race of their unicellular lives. Oh, and by the way, it’s not just squirrels that do this. It’s also kangaroos, bees, rats, reptiles, scorpions, spiders, primates and, oddly enough, one species of gay worm… Because either God had a really weird fetish, or acanthocephalan worms have the same sense of humor as the average frat boy from “Animal House.”
5) Lady Looks Like A Dude (Hyena)
To humans, it’s intuitive that men are the natural hunters of the species. Because, you know, testosterone and stuff. And while it’s understandable to think that this is the case for the entire animal kingdom, you may be surprised to learn that female hyenas turn our traditional human gender roles upside down. Females defend territory and hunt, while males just lie around the house, doing nothing but eating, sleeping, having sex and generally living the dream like that.
However, even dumb animals know that biology makes males physically stronger than females. So what’s a female hyena to do if she wants to gain a reproductive advantage over her fellow African canines? Why, grow a giant, fake dong of course!
Yep, female hyenas actually evolved to have giant, swinging pieces of flesh between their thighs for no reason other than to trick other female hyenas into thinking that she is actually a big, strong he when deciding whether or not to fight over a fresh kill. Damn, maybe these male hyenas aren’t living the dream after all. Or, at the very least, they must take a lot of cold showers after their wives come home with a lady boner after a long day’s hunt.
4) Barbed Cat Pizzles
That’s right. Pizzles. I’m guessing you think that I’m using that term as a silly euphemism, but little do you know, that’s actually the scientifically accurate name for a non-human…pizzle. Seriously, that’s not a joke. Look it up. Anyways, a lady cat is like that quiet girl that lived down the hall from you freshman year: She likes it rough. How do the male cats satisfy her? Well, they did it by evolving barbs on their pizzles. Seriously. The scientifically accurate term. Google.
The reason for this is twofold. Firstly, a lady cat’s internal egg dispensers don’t pull the trigger on giving a new potential baby cat a chance at fertilization unless they’re…vigorously encouraged to do so, if you know what I mean. The second reason, however, should make you glad you’re not a female feline, be it a lion or a house cat: the pizzle barbs destroys her vagizzle (also the scientifically accurate term, probably), thus rendering her incapable of mating with anyone else, and ensuring baby daddy status for bachelor number one. Yeah, Mother Nature can be a bitch sometimes.
3) Harbor Seal Children vs. Evil Sea Otters
Sea otters have a public reputation for being cute and playful. But when you’re not looking, it turns out they exhibit a behavior that has been described by biologists as “completely douchetastic.” For you see, male sea otters do not only beat the crap out of females whilst mating with them for no discernable reason. No, if that were their worst offense, then they’d merely be on par with worst males of most other species. Sea otters go above and beyond to a new level of awful, by confusing other species’ babies for their own mates.
Harbor seal pups, possibly the cutest baby animals on the planet, are born into the unfortunate circumstance of looking very similar in adult female sea otters, at least in the eyes of dumb, horny male sea otters. So should said horny males encounter a harbor seal pup, they will start beating the crap out of it, like they do to their sea otter lady friends. And then, as they would with their sea otter lady friends, they get the urge to do it with the seals, too.
Whoa, wait, no. If those sea otters weren’t so adorable while holding hands and sleeping, they’d be the subject of the season premiere of “Law and Order: Intraspecies Victims Unit.”
2) “Parasitic Castration” is Disturbingly Common
Imagine, if you will, that you’re a crab, living under the sea and minding your own business. Suddenly, you feel a slight itchiness on the soft tissue of one of your joints; one that vanishes just as soon as it came. “No big deal,” you think to yourself. “I am merely a crab, and thus my primitive nervous system cannot possibly comprehend the concept of parasitology, so I remain blissfully ignorant of the horror that awaits me.” Oh, you naïve little crustacean.
That momentary sensation you felt on your joint was none other than a Sacculina barnacle, and oh boy, does she have plans for you. Specifically, your balls. This parasitic sea creature takes up residence in your crab manhood, and makes itself at home by releasing hormones that sterilize and feminize you. Next, she invites over her barnacle booty call, and mates with him inside you (shudder), while simultaneously convincing you that you’re now a woman crab. She then releases her freshly fertilized eggs from your…pizzle area. And, as a final insult, compels you using literally mind-controlling hormones to care for her eggs as if they were your own. And thus, the circle of life continues. The horrifying, horrifying circle of life.
1) Male flour beetles pull the ol’ semen switcheroo
So what could possibly be more emasculating that being turned from a manly man crab into a womanly caring mother type by a barnacle? Meet the flour beetle. Just like with any other animal, competition for mates is fierce, and only the ones who pass their genes on by any means necessary will survive. If you wanted to gain the most despicable advantage possible, what would you do? Round up and murder your enemies so that you’re the only male beetle remaining?
But why do that, when you could achieve a similar advantage while robbing your foe of any and all dignity? But how could you make sure you get every last shred of that sweet, sweet self esteem?
Why, simply sneak up and mix your semen with his. That way, when he gets it on with a sexy lady beetle he met at the bar last night, he ends up shooting your seed into her along with his own. Dear lord, is that even possible? Yes. Yes it is. Astoundingly, this tactic works. Well, not all the time, because which beetle’s seed wins the fertilization race is a crap shoot (figuratively and literally).
Holy shit, humans are downright normal when compared to freaks like these. Suddenly, six boxes of half price post-Valentine’s Day chocolates and 20 pages of Forever Alone memes doesn’t sound so bad, does it?