Wednesday, August 5, 2009

So You Think Gay Sex Is Weird?

Fine. I get that. Seems a bit weird to me, too. Like I said before, though: if it seems weird to me, that's my problem; and if it seems weird to you, that's your problem. But I do understand. I believe that we're programmed to be uncomfortable with the unusual, and something that only ten per cent of the population does is fair game. However, if you could just put a pin in that for a second, I'd like to tell you about something that may alter your perspective.

Have you ever looked at a spider very closely, or seen macro shots like this one? Some spiders look like they're wearing boxing gloves. That little fifth set of legs is called the pedipalps, and if they're swollen like that, it means the spider is a male.

What are the pedipalps for, you ask? Well. Get ready, 'cause this shit's gonna blow your mind. The following is from the article ON SPERMATIC TRANSMISSION IN SPIDERS by J. W. abalos and E. C. Baez.
In 1843, Menge described the construction by the mature male of a nuptial web into which (or directly into the web of the female) he deposits a drop of semen. The semen is produced in his abdominal reproductive organs, a pair of gonads with their respective deferent ducts meeting to form a terminal duct, opening at the midline of the body into a seminal vesicle in the epigastric furrow. This drop of semen is then taken up by the copulatory apparatus situated in the male palpi, which are transformed for this purpose into more or less complex organs, according to the spider family. Once the palpi are filled with sperm, the male is ready for mating.

Copulation is preceded by a courtship typical for each species and described by various authors. The male introduces the embolus of one palpus into the female epigynum, transferring the sperm into the seminal receptacle; immediately afterwards he repeats the operation with the other palpus. The deposition of the sperm in the nuptial web as described by Menge was later observed by various authors, among whom Montgomery (1903) suggested the term "sperm induction".
Read the entire PDF for more fun. And seriously, if you can manage it, find a copy of the following article.
Studies on the Habits of Spiders, Particularly Those of the Mating Period
by Montgomery, T. H., Jr.
Proceedings of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, Vol. 55 (1903), pp. 59- 149
Published by: Academy of Natural Sciences
It's nothing short of a mind-altering experience: page after page of descriptions of male spiders who, if they're very lucky, manage to mate without dying at all. The merely lucky males manage to get eaten by the female only after finishing a regime of spectacularly acrobatic sex. The unlucky ones get killed as soon as they touch her web.

Makes gay sex seem kinda boring, yeah?

5 comments:

  1. LOL!! You have a way with the keyboard Hugh! :)

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  2. Ok - completely laughed out loud at this one...good post!

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  3. You two made my day yesterday! Thank you!

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  4. Hugh, I can always count on you to both educate me and make me laugh. You're too much man! You're AWESOME.

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  5. Heh. Thanks Mel! You're awesome too. I'm so glad people are getting a kick out of this. I'll have to make "So you think gay sex is weird?" a regular feature.

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