Not so surprisingly, almost all the Valentine’s behaviors humans exhibit are replicated somewhere in the animal kingdom. Attracting and holding onto a mate is one of the driving forces behind many behaviors we witness across various species of animals. So this Valentine’s Day, take a hint from these romantic birds and smooth-talking fish. They’re the real experts in love!
Bowerbirds are well known for their showmanship when it comes to attracting a lady. These birds, native to Australia and New Guinea, build elaborate structures, aptly named “bowers,” to attract a mate. These structures are typically symmetrical and made of various grasses. They are often adorned with different blue items, as it is the bowerbird’s favorite color. The male bowerbird works diligently on his structure for nine whole months.
When spring comes around, this male will spend almost the entire day in his bower, preparing for the ladies. When a female arrives, he then performs an incredible dance at the entrance of his not-so-humble abode. If the female accepts, they make their way into the bower. Female bowerbirds are lucky girls, indeed!
2. Red-Capped Manakin
Not all birds have the time and resources to build an elaborate tower. Some have to rely solely on their incredibly attractive dance moves to pick up girls. The red-capped manakin puts Michael Jackson’s moonwalk to shame. During mating season, this small South American bird knows exactly where he is heading. The “single” males gather at
The red-capped manakin puts Michael Jackson’s moonwalk to shame. During mating season, this small South American bird knows exactly where he is heading. The “single” males all gather at leks (designated courtship assemblies that take place in trees). The alpha males claim a branch as their dance platform for the season and get to work. The manakin dance looks like a fast-paced moonwalk across the branch, complete with vibration noises and clicks to really entice any single girls.
Way down in the deep crevices of the ocean floor, anglerfish males are proving they know a thing or two about commitment. The anglerfish you are used to seeing, with the fishing-pole-like structure attached to their head, is actually a female anglerfish. The males are much, much smaller. Instead of looking all over this vast ecosystem for a suitable mate, he has evolved into many women’s worst nightmare … a parasitic mate.
When a free-swimming male angler encounters a female, he latches on for the ride (using his sharp teeth). Over time, he physically fuses to this female, connecting to her skin and bloodstream. During this process the male will lose his internal organs (except testes, of course), eyes, and the ability to live on his own. The female doesn’t have it that bad though; she normally has six or more boyfriends at a time, and they all get along great!
The albatross is a seabird that utilizes dance in their dating life. Both males and females will dance together for hours each day. It is thought that this behavior allows them to evaluate one another for the role of long-term partner. This decision is incredibly important for the albatross because they mate for life. They will continue to perform the elaborate dance each year, but over time it is abandoned altogether (Hey, when you get comfortable in a relationship, it happens!).
In the animal kingdom, seahorses are known for mixing things up. Instead of traditional male and female roles, these adorable fish are a little more progressive. During courtship, males and females will often partake in dancing rituals. They will swim next to one another, side by side as well, synchronizing their behavior. If they do decide to mate, the female deposits her eggs into the males specialized pouch. He then carries the 1,500 eggs for around 45 days, becoming aggressive and protective of his brood. The baby seahorses emerge fully developed and ready to fend for themselves.
Pufferfish really understand the power of a romantic gesture. These prickly fish will work hard to create the perfect Valentine’s Day display. Males will flap their fins as they swim along the sea floor, creating an amazing circular pattern in the sediment. Although the fish are tiny, typically about five inches long, the patterns are normally around seven feet in diameter! Talk about dedication!
If the female pufferfish decides she likes the display, she will mate with the male. This involves her laying her eggs in the center of the circle. The male then fertilizes the eggs and keeps watch for six days before moving on.
Gibbons are the closest relative to humans that mate for life. To attract their mate, gibbons partake in a series of loud mating calls. Once paired, the couple will use this call to communicate with other couples.
Gibbon couples have been seen grooming each other and just enjoying one another’s company in the tree tops. They literally enjoy hanging out with one another.
More research has found that gibbon relationships are actually closer to ours than we recently thought. These monogamous primates have been found occasionally cheating on their partner or dumping the mate for someone “better.”
8. Gentoo Penguins
Gentoo penguin males have discovered a gift better than roses or chocolates. The perfect gift to win over any female in this species is a beautiful rock … and not a diamond!
During mating season, male penguins spend hours looking through thousands of rocks to find the perfect one. Researchers have even witnessed two males fighting over a stone they both wanted. When he has found the perfect stone, the male penguin brings it to the female he has a crush on. If she accepts the gift, she places it in her nest, and the two are officially going steady.
9. Prairie Vole
The prairie vole is the most romantic animal on earth. These little creatures form pair-bonds that last for a lifetime. They share parental roles, and work together to build their perfect nest.
The neurotransmitters, oxytocin and vasopressin, are the key component in the creation of such strong pair bonds for this specific species of vole. If you remove this chemical reaction, the prairie voles are no longer monogamous because oxytocin and vasopressin give these animals the feeling of love.
So Green Monsters, will you be taking any notes from these animals this V-Day?
Lead image source: Luis Alejandro Bernal Romero/Flickr