Friday Weird Science: Oral Sex Gets Fishy

Oct 11 2013 Published by under Friday Weird Science, Uncategorized

When it comes to parenting, some animals will go the extra mile. Possums, for example, have their young clinging on as they trundle around. Kangaroos give birth to immature young that they keep in a pouch until it's bursting at the seams. Humans let 30 year old offspring move back in.

And fish? Do mouth brooding.

The fish above has a mouthful of eggs. It's a cichlid. And some species of cichlid will go the extra...mouthful to protect their eggs. They are so worried about the predation of their eggs that the females lay eggs, circle around, and then immediately gobble them up, holding them in their mouths until the fry hatch, and often even longer, until they are big enough to make it on their own.

However, it turns out that the female fish are in such a rush to pick up their eggs, they sometimes don't even give them time to get fertilized! Holding a mouth of unfertilized eggs seems like kind of a waste. But the males have figured out not just how to get fertilization to happen...they got some oral sex out of the bargain.

Sort of.

Mrowka, W. "Oral Fertilization in a Mouthbrooding Cichlid Fish" Ethology, 1987.

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Basics Set: Female Reproduction Part 4, The Reproduction Bit

Mar 01 2010 Published by under Basic Science Posts

And we're back with part 4 of Sci's brand spanking new series on female reproduction!! This one's going to be a whopper, fertilization and pregnancy is a lot to cover, and so it will be very basic and divided into two posts, though less basic than the "baby in your tummy" bit that Sci learned when she was small.

(Sci had this book when she was small. It made her very popular with the local kids, and I still giggle every time I think of the part where they tell you that an orgasm is a like a big, wonderful sneeze.)
So here we go, basic fertilization and early pregnancy, starting with your friend, the sperm:

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