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The animal world's X-rated tendencies

December 27, 2011|By Chris Erskine | Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
  • The male version of the coconut octopus dies months after mating, one of the odd-but-true creatures in the February exhibit.
The male version of the coconut octopus dies months after mating, one of…

Just in time for Valentine’s Day, the California Academy of Sciences in San Francisco is opening a gallery called “Animal Attraction,” which delves into the science of sex and the remarkably odd and amusing ways animals have developed for attracting mates and producing offspring. 

Consider it part of your continuing sex ed program.

“Visitors will encounter hermaphroditic banana slugs, barnacles that win the award for most well-endowed, cannibalistic praying mantises, parasitic anglerfish, and more than a dozen other creatures,” the academy promises. “If not for reproduction, plants wouldn’t bloom, birds wouldn’t sing, and deer wouldn’t sprout antlers.”

I’m not sure about those barnacles, but you can’t help feel for the male coconut octopus. After mating, the dudes die within months and females will stop hunting in order to care for thousands of eggs, surviving just until they hatch.

Or there’s the male Ceratioid anglerfish. According to the academy, when he finds a mate, he literally latches on and won't let go.  “After biting into the female, the two fuse permanently, and the male will gradually atrophy until he's nothing more than a pair of gonads.” 

Sound familiar?

The exhibit opens Feb. 11. For info, click here, or call (415) 379-8000.

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