Anonim

Ballets, serenades, flashy liveries and even a few dinner invitations. The courtship among the animals is not so different from that of men. In the animal world it is usually the males who invent stratagems of all kinds to seduce the female, but there are also some curious exceptions.

The peacock (Pavo cristatus) is a typical example of a male who exhibits his lush livery to conquer the partner. Generally, being stronger, the male can afford a certain visibility, unlike the female and the little ones that, more vulnerable, are forced to exhibit less obvious plumage.

Among the cebi from the croissants (cebus apella), apes widespread in Central and South America, it is the female who makes the first move, showing her willingness to mate with grimaces, verses and sensual winks. The male, for his part, is indifferent and enjoys the show for hours without making any move. She arches her eyebrows upwards and bends the corners of her mouth into a knowing smile. But, once conquered, the male awakens from the initial torpor and becomes an active and imaginative partner and begins, in turn, to court his companion before mating with her.

Not only the appearance of the livery for the satin bird (Ptilinorhyunchus violaceus) counts, for which the ritual of courtship is a complex sequence of precise gestures. First of all, the male builds a sort of alcove, decorated with colored objects, such as leaves, feathers, shells, but also bits of plastic gathered around.

The female skips here and there, over an area of ​​one square kilometer, to view the various "installations". Established the most attractive and colorful, it is placed, and the word passes to the male who performs in songs and dances in his honor. He must take care not to be too impulsive, however, in the subsequent moves, otherwise the lady's escape before consuming the relationship.

The sterna (sterna fuscata) courts its partner by giving it small fish it captures in the Arctic waters. The bigger the donated loot, the more effective the male's court. Successfully mating (and deciding with whom) are the most mature females of the colony, the so-called matriarchs.

With the mouth of the female there is also an exchange of organic mineral salts and sebum (abundant in the inner part of the mouth): this is a fundamental step in the formation of the couple and close relative of the kiss. It has been shown that, by depriving one of the two birds of the sebaceous glands, the subsequent relationship is in fact prevented.

The ritual of courtship is tiring and "steals" the energy needed to procure food or defend against predators. Thus, according to a recent study carried out at the University of North Caroline, animals tend to be economics, especially when they believe that the chances of success are poor. The observation took place in particular on the chaffinch or bullfinch of Cassin (Carpodacus cassinii), which reproduces in the mountains of the Sierra Nevada (California): it performs in loud songs only if it is sure that there is a female nearby, otherwise not wastes energy.

Among seabirds, the albatrosses (Diomedea exulans) are famous for the complex ritual with which males try to convince the female to be the best party. During their ballets, she flies over the venue and only after a few reconnaissance flights gets thrown into the fray. The choreography, staged at the beginning of each spring, is made of precise moves, visual signals and sound references.

This pair of major grebes (Podiceps cristatus) are engaged in a courtship ceremony that involves the exchange of a symbolic gift, a tuft of algae torn from the bottom of the lake where they live. In this way the male demonstrates to the female that she has good diving skills, which is equivalent to a good ability to obtain food: a strong and enterprising male is an excellent candidate to become the father of a healthy and robust offspring.

In the animal world the serenades of love are quite widespread. They sing whales and fin whales, warble and whistle this frog (Dendrobates umilio) from Costa Rica that imitates the verse of an insect to seduce its female. The crickets are even dead.
According to a recent study published in Nature, male field crickets (Teleogryllus commodus) die young because they spend too much time in love calls. If they are fed more abundantly, they spend the surplus of forces in extra songs. Evolutionarily it is a heroic choice: the more one sings, the more one mates and transmits one's genes to successive generations.

During the rites of love that last all spring, the sage rooster (Centrocercus urophasianus), a typical bird of the great prairies of North America, meets with other males in special spaces, called lek, where it performs by making the wheel, inflating the esophageal sacs and showing the jugular of an intense green color. The bags, in particular, serve to produce a sound similar to that of a stone falling into water. Along with the sound of the back feathers, agitated to create a brush effect similar to that of a percussionist on the cymbals, here is the soundtrack of the event. Recent research has shown that the real Casanova are the oldest specimens that, thanks to experience, show off more inexperienced young people who remain dry-mouthed …

Another bird that swells the chest to attract the female's attention is the male of the magnificent frigate (Fregata magnificens), which is seasonally monogamous: but how does the fatal encounter occur? The males gather in groups, spread their wings, inflate the sac of the jugular of intense red and point their beak upwards. To control them from above there are in fact the females who, after evaluating the best party, land next to the chosen one.

Gardening birds, birds that live in Australia and New Zealand, do even more than inflate their feathers or call out the female. They build a real house for her: not to use it as a nest, but simply to admire it as a symbol of their artistic abilities. This great male grisio gardener (Chlamydera nuchalis) built a veranda with twigs and sticks of the same color as his plumage.

Even the ritual of blue-footed boobies (Sula nebouxii) is particularly complicated, as shown by the photo that captures this sea bird while scampering in front of the female to be trapped. The courtship begins with the male who wanders in his hunting territory, preening himself in a march in which he flaunts his blue legs. He performs some demonstration flights and, landing in front of the female, he again shows off his legs and throws sharp cries: if the female answers with a plaintive call, it is done!

Among the mammals, the deer is the one that bears the most obvious signs of its appeal. The males are equipped with boxes of real bone (not to be confused with simple horns), which fall and re-grow every year, regulated by sex hormones. For the mating season, the boxes are at the apex and represent a sign of power, social rank but also a weapon in the struggles between males. Then when it is time to mate it is the female that attracts the male with its long groans and releasing an intoxicating fragrance. It must not be forgotten, in fact, that the male must also be taken by the nose, as it seems they also do … cockroaches .
In the photo a couple of moose (Alces alces) in love.

For the courtship rituals of ostriches (Struthio camelus) a new English word, kantling, was invented. This is the name of the show put in place, during the mating season, by the males who throw themselves to the ground, kneeling and rolling from side to side, spreading their wings, waving their feathers, and making deep calls. All in the norm, if in some farms had not been detected as ostriches bred in captivity they reserve their dances of love … to the breeders. Even in zoos, male ostriches that mate with females of their own species are rare. The proximity to the man makes them rather confused.

Behind this romantic "heart" position typical of dragonfly mating is a complicated game of joints. The reproductive organs of the male in fact, are located at the base of the abdomen, and not at the extremity (where instead there is the opening that secretes the sperm). Before the union begins, the partner transfers his genetic makeup to the copulatory organ, then goes in search of a companion. With particular appendices in the shape of "pliers" he grabs her by the neck inviting her to bend her abdominal end to reach the perfect position (called "tandem"). To make sure that they are the fathers of the unborn, the males of some species remove the sperm of the previous companions from the female. Others hold it until it lays its eggs, removing potential rivals.

It will also be cold outside, but these two penguins holding hands … indeed, for the wing among the Antarctic ice they would also warm the icy heart. While the professional photographer Silviu Ghetie, from Romania, took photos of the surreal landscape of Port Lockroy, a natural inlet in the Antarctic Peninsula, a couple of penguins entered the target field and immediately turned to the reporter's attention. The two remained aloof from the rest of the group, in a romantic attitude, for a couple of minutes, before being interrupted by a "third wheel".

After the courtship, the moment of mating comes. But for this we refer you to the Focus 271 (May 2015), on newsstands, on our app Focus Italy (iOS - Android - Amazon) and on the web (Zinio).

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The peacock (Pavo cristatus) is a typical example of a male who exhibits his lush livery to conquer the partner. Generally, being stronger, the male can afford a certain visibility, unlike the female and the little ones that, more vulnerable, are forced to exhibit less obvious plumage.