Sunday, February 1, 2015

14 Days of Genitals, Day 1: Lekky in Love

It's that time of the year again, the time when we horrify and amaze you with facts about animals sex lives in hopes of making you feel so much better than your own (cuz even if you're celibate, at least you don't enjoy humping dead baby seals). This is the third year running - if you're interested in old posts you can follow the "14 Days of Genitals" tag down the rabbit hole.

We're going to pitch a few softballs to start then finish this run with truly horrifying sexual strategies. Today's article focuses on the mating displays of manakins.

The creepy-eyed bird, not the creepy-eyed dress-up dolls.

Manakins mate exactly like OKCupid: the males all stay in one place (ie... next to each other on the internet) and compete for females via sexual displays (photos and overly forward messages) while the women sit back and decide who they want to pick. For manakins and other leking birds, this mating strategy works out nicely because nobody has to hunt one another down: having a big group of noisy males makes it pretty obvious for the ladies where all the man-meat is at. For humans, this strategy theoretically weeds out serial killers (same-same but different!).

Leking displays vary among manakins but are broadly speaking pretty entertaining. These birds are very sexually dimorphic, to the extent that they look like completely different species. Their displays are extravagant, and in some species the males work communally to be more impressive (like Hunger Games but for DOING IT!). Or if you prefer, a literal wing man. Here two dudes aggressively peck a branch and then play leap-frog together to entice a lady to get in on the action.

That lady is so psyched for her imminent threesome, and then so confused by their continued insistence on hopping on top of each other (just like the wives in My Husband's Not Gay). 

But the king among the manakin leking displays is that of the Red-capped manakin. Up to five male birds perform this Michael Jackson-inspired routine simultaneously, which sounds glorious.

Moonwalking really does impress the ladies, FYI. And the dudes. And anyone you come into contact with - it's pretty cool and we don't really understand how it works.

Neither does this flamingo.

Or this dog.

Or this human.

What? It's hard.


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