Nature

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Praying Mantis Sex: How Often Do the Females Eat the Males?

 

 

You may have heard that the female praying mantis eats its mate post-copulation. Fortunately for the male praying mantis, this doesn’t seem to be the case – at least in every instance:
“By most estimates, sexual cannibalism by praying mantis females occurs less than 30% of the time outside the lab. Those are pretty good odds for the fellows. Praying mantis sex, it turns out, is really a rather romantic series of courtship rituals that typically ends satisfactorily and safely for both parties involved.” (Source: Insects.About.com)
Follow Debby on Twitter at @DebbyHerbenick or follow MSP at @MySexProfessor Continue Reading →

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. Continue Reading →

Genitals in the Wild: Man-made Nature

Earlier this year I found myself disc golfing on one of the most beautiful and popular courses in the nation. The Flip City disc golf course on the western coast of Michigan has rolling hills and beautifully trimmed fairways lined with cairns. For those not in the know, a cairn is a pile of rocks that is so stacked to be unnatural and artistic. While I was accustomed to surprise artistic structures on this course (there’s a mosaic made of beer bottlecaps, and a bottle-festooned tree), for some reason I was unprepared for the sight that awaited me on the 18th hole. It made for a fun last hole. Continue Reading →

Biology: Sometimes Hard To Ignore

Of the many interconnections of sex and nature, an obvious one is biology: the fact that we are living beings that interact with the natural world, ranging from the environment to other organisms. Some of those other organisms include viruses such as HIV. And sometimes people aren’t clear on how they work, as when Republican Tennessee state Sen. Stacey Campfield claimed: ”My understanding is that it is virtually — not completely, but virtually — impossible to contract AIDS through heterosexual sex.” It turns out that the organisms inside our bodies don’t care what kind of sex we’re having: if infected fluids (such as semen, vaginal fluids, breast milk, or blood) are shared, then there is a risk of HIV transmission. Period. I’m starting to wonder how many people are conflating biology/nature with social norms and could use a refresher course! Continue Reading →

Ten Foot Dork

I came across a chart comparing penis sizes on Tumblr, and thought it was worth sharing. Now, this isn’t the typical penis size comparison chart that I was expecting (comparing penis size in different countries), but instead compares the average penis size among different animals, including humans. Unfortunately I couldn’t find the original source (if you know it, please comment and let me know! One blog credits I Love Charts, but I couldn’t find it on their site). I found the chart a little terrifying – I mean, a whale penis is about ten feet in length and one foot in diameter! Continue Reading →

Nature, Nurture, And Vaginas

One of my favorite questions to explore since I took a psychology class in high school has been the relationship of nature and nurture, or biology and culture. How much of human behavior is determined by relatively fixed factors like our genes and hormones, and how much is shaped by environment, family, diet, and culture? These intersections are tricky and difficult to navigate, yet teasing out distinctions has been a key project of sexuality scholars and feminists for decades now (to cite but one example, in the Victorian era it was believed that women’s wombs would wander, causing distress and dumbness, and so women’s bodies were held against them as a reason they couldn’t be educated, own property, or participate in politics – which, today, is known to be obviously untrue). While I’ve not yet had a chance to read feminist Naomi Wolf’s controversial new book Vagina, I’d like to use its premise as a leaping-off point for discussing how complicated the nature-nurture relationship can get when you throw in sexuality and history (both personal and cultural). As Wolf describes her project in an interview, she “stumbled upon hugely important scientific discovery after hugely important scientific discovery,” proving what she called a “profound brain-vagina connection.” Drawing from scientific studies as well as her own sex life, the book’s premise seems to be that women’s sex lives are unfulfilling in large part because women’s biology (specifically regarding sex and vaginas) is so misunderstood. Continue Reading →

This Week on MSP: Sex and Nature

Welcome to October, MSP readers! We’re kicking off the month with a week of “Sex and Nature” themed posts. From Nature vs. Nurture debates, to animal penis lengths, we’re looking at the many thematic ways that sex and nature overlap. And of course, there will be a couple genitals-in-the-wild to share. Continue Reading →