The business is seduction. Some advice from the animals. Make-up, nightclubs, presents, love songs, and moon walk dancing birds!
When it comes to procreation, we’ve all heard Darwin’s theories on survival of the fittest– the name of the game is to make it with the fittest member you can find!
Sex you say? Seems simple enough. But simple doesn’t always mean easy.
After all, it’s not just about individual survival, it’s about offering up your best DNA to the gene pool so our offspring can thrive in future generations– no pressure, of course,
The hard part comes in the attracting, and everyone knows in the dating world, if you snooze, you lose. That’s why many species have their own very specific mating rituals to help attract the best mates– some are endearing, and some are downright bizarre.
Considering the human propensity for domination over the animal kingdom, we’re curiously similar in courtship rituals to many of our animal friends– in this article we’ll take a look at just how similar.
Crafting a Plan
The first step in attracting the other of your dreams is to develop a strategy, and in the animal kingdom there are a number of mating strategies that animals use to engage the other.
Some of the most common methods of garnering attention are mating calls, mating dances, songs, different types of vocalizations, dressing up, displays of dominance or physical strength and even… bellowing.
But no matter how lovely or bizarre the ritual, the funny thing is they all seem awfully familiar, and that’s because humans also have their own repertoire of mating behaviors that don’t differ too much from others in the animal kingdom.
Here are some examples of similarities between human and animal dating rites to give you an idea of just where we stand as far as reproductive creativity.
The Art of Beautification
Ever wonder why advertising sells so much product when it’s based on the adage ‘Sex Sells’?
Many companies will include a picture of a gorgeous model in their ads regardless of whether the product has anything to do with beauty– and it works! Research has borne out the idea that using an attractive model outsells adverts based on logical persuasion.
Just looking at an attractive model stimulates an emotional response and circumvents the parts of our brain that dictate logic and reason, based on our biological leanings toward beauty.
That’s because on a biological level, beauty signals health, which in turn signals a good candidate for mating, and humans are not the only species that uses beautification in order to attract a mate.
We’ve all seen that peacock with feathers outstretched as he struts his stuff for the ladies– the display not only shows off his great looks, to discerning peahens it’s a show of health, and therefore genetic viability.
Speaking of peacocks, the male peacock spider also has a healthy appreciation for beauty in the mating game. These spiders show off their elaborately patterned upper bellies with a fancy little dance that shows the ladies not only that they’ve got some serious moves, but that their gene health is intact.
And it’s not just what you’re born with, it’s what you do with it, as all humans who wear cosmetics know– a little makeup here a touch of hairspray there can help make all the difference in attracting a mate.
Flamingos know this, too– research has found that female flamingoes apply pigments found in their preen glands to their feathers during mating season to make them more appealing to mates. The pigments come in glorious shades of red, yellow and orange, and highlight the flamingo’s colours, demonstrating their natural beauty and therefore their viability for male flamingoes.
When it comes to flaunting beauty in order to attract a lover, a flamingo would tell you that we humans have it right.
Ever wonder why status symbols are so important? Or why displays of wealth, superiority or power such as driving that bright red sports car are so important?
It’s simple- evolution!
Throughout the animal kingdom, there are many examples of animals that use displays of status or power to attract a mate. House sparrows show off their dark bills to advertise high testosterone levels, lions sport a thick, dark mane and human males… drive red sports cars.
There have been numerous studies measuring male testosterone levels after driving sports cars and through saliva tests designed to measure hormone levels, results have consistently shown that levels are up considerably after even just an hour behind the wheel.
It’s a great cycle– the power display not only helps to attract females to the healthy male, they also help to prime the male by increasing testosterone levels– research has shown that there are a number of behaviours that elevate testosterone, such as behaving aggressively or working out, but driving a sports car is by far one of the best.
And quality matters– in studies measuring the results of a Porsche against a Kia, or a Toyota Corolla, the Porsche won hands-down. So next time you’re lamenting his attachment to that fancy red sports car, you’ll understand why– it’s a testosterone thing.
A Night at the Club
Is there anything better when you’re looking for a mate than a night of clubbing? Ruffs don’t think so– these birds in Arctic Norway come together during mating season and males shake their booty, nightclub style.
Just like in human nightclubs, the best-looking males tend to pick up the ladies.
Anyone familiar with the club scene knows that dancing is a great way of attracting a mate, and so many animals from Alligators to Blue-Footed Boobies perform wild dances to show the world they’ve got the goods.
Alligators perform a showy dance using their entire bodies to make water droplets dance on their backs– it’s an oddly elegant performance and one that seems to have worked out for them, considering that the ancient species has been around for roughly 180 million years. Alligator water dance!
Male Blue-Footed Boobies dance a crazy little jig to show off the size and colour of their feet– after all, nothing says manly like big blue clown feet.
Bird in particular seem to be highly talented dancers, and not at all averse to exploiting their talents to find love– from the exquisite mating dance of Japanese Cranes to the moonwalking moves of the Manakin– they do it with varying levels of dignity, but it all works out in the end. Moon dancing bird!
So next time you’re cutting it up on the dance floor and you find you could use some confidence, just remember it’s an age-old courtship ritual used by a number of species– what could go wrong?
Gifts of Love
Next time you’re out choosing roses to charm your love, remember that you’re not alone. From spiders to fireflies, gift giving is an animal instinct used to further courtship.
Perhaps one of the most romantic examples is the Paratrechalea ornata, a South American spider that presents females with packets wrapped in silk, and guess what? The bigger the package, the better– larger presents increase the likelihood that the female will have him, and often convince her to make love longer.
Male fireflies are pragmatic givers– they present females with gorgeous packages called spermatophores, which contain life-giving nutrients, and of course some sperm. Fireflies don’t feed as adults, and that the gifts are vital to keeping females alive, which means the gifts are not only beautiful, they’re practical too.
And of course there is the Eurasian Jay who mates for life, but is kind enough to present his love with the gift of food– it’s a sweet gesture meant to nurture lifelong ties, and it helps to keep love running smoothly.
What woman doesn’t swoon at the thought of their lover serenading them? Next time you consider wooing your intended with a love song, just remember– it’s always gone well for birds, frogs, crickets, mice and a variety of other species.
Humans have always had a penchant for a good love song, as evidenced by our booming music industry, and that’s just one more thing we have in common with our animal friends.
A serenade had always been a popular expression of the language of love, and nobody knows this better than the animal world.
So there you have it– there are in fact huge similarities between human and animal mating rituals, and while some are perhaps just a little off-side, most of them seem to work out quite well. It may be worth considering, next time you’re wracking your brain for the best way to attract that hottie at the coffee shop– the animal kingdom has tons of great advice on winning what you want!