New Research on “Promiscuous Cephalopods”

As regular MSP readers will know, I love learning about the fascinating (and sometimes hilarious) sex lives of Australian fauna. Multi-vaginated kangaroos and chlamydia-ridden koalas have a new companion in MSP’s catalog of interesting antipodean animals: the Australian dumpling squid.

Dumpling squid rarely miss an opportunity to copulate, but their libidos and marathon mating sessions can compromise their safety. Zoologists at the University of Melbourne collected a sample of dumpling squid and observed their pre- and post-sex swimming endurance in a lab.

Since these squid regularly mate for up to three hours, their ensuing post-coital fatigue can leave them vulnerable to predators. The researchers found that both the males and females took 30 minutes to regain normal muscle functioning. The good news is that they can still hide in the sand and change color to blend into their environments, but these adaptations don’t always protect them. Dumpling squid’s lifespan is usually less than one year, which the researchers attribute (at least partially) to their mating habits.

Due to their somewhat phallic shape and “promiscuous” behavior, perhaps squid should usurp rabbits as the colloquial sexed-up animal? I like the sound of “hump like squid” and it’d thrill me to have it enter the lexicon.

If you’re interested in reading the original article, it has the brilliant name “The energetic cost of mating in a promiscuous cephalopod” and is published in the journal Biology Letters.

Photo by Mark Norman

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About Kate McCombs

Kate McCombs

Kate McCombs, MPH is a NYC-based sex educator + blogger. She's the founder of Sex Geekdom, a global community for sex educators, researchers, and other folks who love having geeky conversations about sex.