This site is not maintained. Click here for the new website of Richard Dawkins.

Male deep-sea squid seeks mate of either sex for fun in the dark

Thanks to mmurray for the link

alt text
A female deep-sea squid in Monterey Canyon with sperm sacs visible as white dots on the dorsal arms. Males were as likely as females to have sperm sacs on their bodies. Photograph: MBARI

Scientists have identified another mishap that can result from sex in the dark after filming creatures that live in the deeps of the Pacific Ocean.

Footage from remote-controlled submersibles revealed that male deep-sea squid struggle to distinguish between potential mates and members of the same sex in the dimly lit waters.

But instead of developing keener senses to help find a partner, the male of the species has adopted a sexual strategy to suit the conditions: it mates with any deep sea squid it comes across.

Researchers blame bad light, similar male and female body size and the rarity of encounters for the squid's indiscriminate behaviour, which leaves its mark on the bodies of unsuspecting males in the form of spent sperm sacs.

Henk-Jan Hoving, a marine biologist at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute in California, said that wasting sperm was apparently less costly for the males than honing their ability to spot females.

His team found evidence of the squid's "shot-in-the-dark" approach to sex when they examined screen grabs from video recorded at depths of 400-800 metres in the Monterey submarine canyon off the coast of California. To their surprise, as many males as females carried spent sperm sacs on their bodies, a sure sign that males had attempted to mate with them.

In a report published in the journal Biology Letters, the authors claim the behaviour "exemplifies the 'live fast and die young' life strategy of many cephalopods."

The study centred on a squid species called Octopoteuthis deletron. When the squid mate, the male releases a sperm-filled bag that discharges into the female's tissues. The act is swift, but leaves empty sperm sacs on the female body as an outward sign of recent mating.

Read on



Nasa's Curiosity rover zaps Mars rock

Jonathan Amos - BBC News Comments

Pew pew pew pew

Sun Is Roundest Natural Object Known

Dave Mosher - National Geographic Comments

The sun is the roundest natural object ever precisely measured, astronomers say.

Book written in DNA code

Geraint Jones - The Guardian Comments

Scientists who encoded the book say it could soon be cheaper to store information in DNA than in conventional digital devices

Prisoners pitch in to save endangered...

Ed Yong - Nature News Comments

Under the supervision of guards and graduate students, a small group of prisoners is breeding the beautiful orange-and-white insects in a greenhouse outside the prison. They have even carried out research to show what plants the butterfly prefers to lay its eggs on.

U.S. Should Adopt Higher Standards for...

- - Scientific American Comments

Teachers, scientists and policymakers have drafted ambitious new education standards. All 50 states should adopt them

17-year-old girl builds artificial...

John Roach - NBC News Comments

An artificial “brain” built by a 17-year-old whiz kid from Florida is able to accurately assess tissue samples for signs of breast cancer, providing more confidence to a minimally invasive procedure.



Free access to British scientific...

Ian Sample - The Guardian Comments

Professor Dame Janet Finch's recommendations on open access publishing prompted the government's decision.

Higgs boson hunters scent their elusive...

Ian Sample - The Guardian 25 Comments

Scientists at the Large Hadron Collider (LHC) are widely expected to announce evidence of the Higgs boson on Tuesday

Prince Charles branded a 'snake oil...

Ian Sample - 50 Comments

BBC gives too much weight to fringe...

Ian Sample - 33 Comments

A review of the BBC's science coverage has concluded that its drive for impartiality lends too much credence to maverick views on MMR, climate change and GM

Stephen Hawking: 'There is no heaven;...

Ian Sample - 100 Comments

Law could bury ancient secrets for ever

Ian Sample - Guardian 55 Comments



Comment RSS Feed

Please sign in or register to comment