No, no, no — this is not bisexuality or homosexuality

This is a beautiful illustration of the flaw in applying human sexual conventions to non-human organisms. researchers studying deep-sea squid found that all of the squid, male and female alike, were speckled with sperm packets — the males just flick these things out at any passing squid, on the chance that it’s a female. It’s silly to call this bisexuality or same-sex mating, though — it’s pretty darned common in invertebrates. Many species of sea urchins, for instance, indulge in synchronized ejaculatory orgies: on one or a few days a year, all of the individuals in a colony simultaneously spew eggs and sperm into the water, to the degree that they can turn the ocean milky white with semen and ova. Do we call that homosexuality? Is it even right to refer to it as an “orgy”? It’s just indiscriminate fertilization.

The authors of the paper, at least, get it exactly right.

In the Royal Society paper the team writes: “In the deep, dark habitat where O. deletron lives, potential mates are few and far between.

“We suggest that same-sex mating behaviour by O. deletron is part of a reproductive strategy that maximises success by inducing males to indiscriminately and swiftly inseminate every [squid] that they encounter.”

It’s every boy’s dream, just hosing everything down with semen, just to be sure.

(Also on Sb)

Anti-Caturday post

I have never seen one of these alive before, and most of you probably haven’t, either: a priapulid worm. You’ve seen thousands of cats, which are common as dirt, but here’s something wonderfully unusual.

Definitely uncircumcised.

(Also on Sb)

What have my students been thinking about this week?

I’ve got my neurobiology students blogging — all I ask is that they write something relevant to understanding how brains work. Let’s see where their minds are at this week, shall we?

(Also on Sb)

Showoff

Emily Baldry is six years old. Emily has a little plastic shovel. Emily dug up a 160 million year old cephalopod.

I’m 54, I have a little plastic spoon, and I’m eyeing the backyard. There used to be cephalopods swimming around in this neighborhood…of course, there were also some annoying glaciers that scoured the landscape. But I can dream!

(Also on Sb)