Squid sex: it’s complicated

Half-an-hour recovery time for energetic cephalopods

Author: Pat
18th July 2012
 

Scientists have discovered that it can take squid up to 30 minutes to recover after a sex session.

I bet you weren’t expecting to learn that when you ate your cornflakes this morning.

scientists watched the squid mate from behind a curtain

But it’s true, at least according to a report by students of Zoology at the University of Melbourne in Australia.

The three authors decided to study reproductive behaviour of the dumpling squid (Euprymna tasmanica). This small cephalopod was chosen for two reasons: firstly, the male physically restrains the female. And secondly, copulation can go on for up to THREE HOURS.

Way to go, stud.

Reproductive behaviour in animals often bears little resemblance to the human experience, making it a worthy area of study. Report author Amanda Franklin comments that ‘injury’, ‘reduced lifespan’ and even ‘sexual cannibalism’ are just some of the hazards creatures often face that you (presumably) don’t.

Whether the animal is knackered afterwards may affect its ability to outrun predators, as well as source food to eat.

For the study, the authors dived in 5m waters off Australia and collected a number of dumpling squid. To measure their swimming endurance, the squid were stuffed into a PVC tube and forced to swim against a gentle flow of seawater until exhausted.

They were then nurtured in tanks and left to mate. (The scientists ‘hid behind a curtain’ while this took place.)

Instead of a cigarette and some trash TV, post-coitus the squid were back in the tube having their energy levels tested.

Both sexes appeared zapped of energy for around 30 minutes after sex. Authors believe that as the more aggressive participant, the male dumpling squid uses more energy during the act. Whilst less energetic, females on the other hand may have their oxygen restricted by his tight grip.

‘The energetic cost of mating in a promiscuous cephalopod’ by Amanda Franklin, Zoe Squires and Devi Stuart-Fox is now published by the Royal Society.

 
 
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