01 August 2006

March of the Prostitutes

I thought it was intriguing when I learned about all the gay, bi, and pedophile penguins out there, and depressing when I saw what horrible parents they were, but it's a straight up shocker to learn they're also whores!

The researchers kept their eyes open for more cases of penguin prostitution, and they observed a total of ten over three breeding seasons.

In each case, a female penguin left her mate and made her way to a single male at his nest. She stood nearby and gazed at him. When he gave her a sidelong glance and bowed his head, she followed suit. The hopeful male then stepped off his platform of stones, allowing her to waddle on. Leaving no uncertainty about what she was there for, she lay face down on the nest, and the male mounted and mated with her. Afterward, she got up, picked up a stone with her beak, and without further ado, went back to her own nest. In half of the cases, the female returned to the same single male for a second stone, although they did not mate again. In one instance, a female made off with a total of ten stones.

4 comments:

Cash said...

That penguin whore thing is good to know ... because I felt kinda guilty about my nun fetish. But penguins? No problem!

Varsha said...

OMG.....

Allison said...

A large pile of stones lifts the eggs off the ground and out of harm’s way. So males and females take turns scouring the area for unattended stones, often trying to swipe them from neighbors. The victims chase brazen robbers away by pecking them and bashing them with powerful flippers.

Theory: The stones have gained value to the penguins and become a kind of "currency". However, the "prostituting" female penguin gains something besides stones - she will potentially be fertilized by a male who is clever or robust enough to accumulate enough stones that he is willing to part with a few. Since her evolutionary interest is in maximizing the number and quality of her offspring, this is a potentially high-fitness behaviour. Of course the male gains reproductive access to a female, but in particular, he gains access to a female who is guaranteed to have one known high-fitness trait: trading coitus for stones.

utenzi said...

There's plenty of rocks and stones around here. I might have to load up and wander down to Patagonia...