Register for an account

X

Enter your name and email address below.

Your email address is used to log in and will not be shared or sold. Read our privacy policy.

X

Website access code

Enter your access code into the form field below.

If you are a Zinio, Nook, Kindle, Apple, or Google Play subscriber, you can enter your website access code to gain subscriber access. Your website access code is located in the upper right corner of the Table of Contents page of your digital edition.

Planet Earth

Bizarro Animal Sex Story of the Day

Newsletter

Sign up for our email newsletter for the latest science news

Certain East African male cichlids, a kind of freshwater fish, have evolved a really odd way to increase their little sperms' chance of reproductive success. The game plan goes as follows:

  1. Females of these species lay their eggs before they're fertilized and then gobble them up and store them in their mouths to keep them safe.

  2. The males need to get their sperm into an egg-filled mouth to have fish babies. It might work if they just put flung their sperm out there in the water near a female, but that's a bit of a shot in the dark (water).

  3. So the males' anal fins have evolved to have spots that look like cichlid eggs. The females (displaying the notorious fish intelligence) think the spots are their own eggs, so they come over to eat 'em.

  4. The males then squirt out their sperm, which the females unintentionally gobble down, thinking maybe they're eating their own eggs.

How long before teachers and parents start adding these East African cichlids to their explanations to young 'uns about the birds and bees?

    2 Free Articles Left

    Want it all? Get unlimited access when you subscribe.

    Subscribe

    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In

    Want unlimited access?

    Subscribe today and save 70%

    Subscribe

    Already a subscriber? Register or Log In