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If you think dating is frustrating, look no further than the animal kingdom for some solace. Survival of the fittest manifests itself in as truly bizarre courting rituals within the animal world, and this episode of DNews, host Julia Wilde surveys some of the most bizarre. Hand's down, one of the strangest is without a dobut the hooded seal: to entice a passing lady, male hooded seals inflate a giant red balloon-like hood out of their left nostril and wave it around. A study published in the Canadian Journal of Zoology found that these seals also use these hoods to produce calls and noises, and the male with the biggest hood (and the best nose-balloon call) gets the female seal.
As far as having elaborate and flashy mating rituals, birds seem to have cornered the market. We all know about the elaborate and fluorescent tail feathers that the male peacock uses to woo female mates, but that's just the tip of the mating iceberg. The males frigatebirds have huge red pouches on their chests called a gular sac. During mating season, the sac becomes bright red. Males gather in groups of up to 30 and drum on their inflated pouches with their beaks to attract female frigatebirds flying overhead. The drumming on the pouches helps the females determine the size of the pouch, and once she decided on a mate, she swoops down and joins him. He takes her beak in his and they waddle off together to mate.
The male Australian bower bird builds elaborate structures to seduce the female of the species. Often the structure, or bower, is made of intertwining twigs and sticks, sometimes resembling a little hut with an opening. And out on the front lawn of this little hut, the bird collects bright, shiny objects, often buttons, bottle caps, or flowers. A female bower bird comes and sits in his bower, watching as the male performs a complex dance. If she doesn't like it, she'll move on to the next bower. These are just a few of the kooky and elaborate mating rituals discussed in this episode. To find out about the others, check out the episode.
aoucospubs.org/doi/abs/10.1650/7315">Gular Pouch Drumming In The Magnificent Frigatebird (aoucospubs.org)
"Female Magnificent Frigatebirds search for mates while flying and by visiting males at their display sites. Males respond with an intense courtship display that includes making a characteristic drumming sound and presenting the inflated gular pouch, a likely sexually selected trait."
The acoustic repertoire of hooded seals (NRC)
"Airborne and waterborne acoustic sounds of hooded seals (Cystophora cristata) were recorded during the breeding seasons of 1988 and 1989 in the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Canada. During 36?h of in-air focal-animal sampling and 9?h of ad libitum underwater sampling, 410 sounds, in total, were recorded and analyzed."