Valentine’s Day is upon us again and everyone is scrambling to be original. Chocolates and roses are cliché—try stomping your turquoise feet or waving your wings around in a solo dance. The animal kingdom is filled with bizarre courting and mating rituals. Some creatures take a romantic swim together. Others fling “love darts” into a partner to improve their chances of fathering children. Some remain faithful to one partner their entire lives whereas others are more promiscuous. One male bird makes sure to tidy the area of any sticks and leaves before his crush arrives.
Deep in the ocean romance takes an unusual form. Male anglerfish evolved to be diminutive in order to live as a parasite on the backs of a female. There are certainly other fish in the sea but those female anglers are hard to come by, and if a male cannot find “the one”—or anyone, for that matter—his chances of surviving are slim. Meanwhile back on land, a male peacock spider risks his life to impress his lady—because sometimes, if she isn’t moved, she eats him. La vie en rose indeed.
Many of these colorful appearances and bizarre behaviors evolved to aid animals in fulfilling evolutionary destiny—passing their genes along to the next generation.