Humans May Have a Thing or Two to Learn About Romance…From Cuttlefish

by Owen James Burke


Photo: Alexandra Schnell/Macquarie University, Australia

Cuttlefish don’t need to read the Kama Sutra — they may as well have invented it (though I don’t think you’ll find this arrangement in the ancient Hindu text).

The copulation of these cephalopods occurs orally: the male grabs hold of his partner’s head with his arms, inserting a specialized “arm” into the mouth of his fair lady of the night, thereby inseminating her.

The couple will then part ways, the female displaying a white stripe across her body to indicate that she’s closed for business. Still, as is the case with many species across the animal kingdom, males won’t necessarily hold back from making a pass.

Alexandra Schnell and colleagues from Macquarie University, Australia, are observing and researching mating tactics of giant Australian cuttlefish, attempting to hypothesize what gives them the urge to jump one another’s mantle.

Findings showed that females took time to recuperate or regain interest between mating, while those that had not been freshly tended-to were found to be less selective, assuming a more inviting position for nearly any male passerby. Males, on the other hand, seem generally interested at most times, despite whether having recently mated, but do prefer to seek “strange,” or unfamiliar mating partners when conducting their exploits.

The exact reason for attraction between cuttlefish remains a mystery, though chemical cues are a distinct possibility. For one, they’re thoroughly investigative in their assessment of potential mates, which is perhaps something mankind could stand to glean about its own sexuality.

Read more at New Scientist — OJB

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