Bisexual squid

Timed to coincide with the end of DADT (not really) is the announcement of the discovery of bisexual deep sea squid. Not that that is surprising to evolutionary biologists – same sex sex is far from unique in the animal world.  Still, the mechanism of the encounter is for this species a little weird, even for us.  Read about it here at the NYT:

A five-and-a-half-inch deep-sea squid that lives a solitary life up to half a mile down in the dark waters of the Pacific Ocean is the latest addition to the hundreds of species that are known to engage in same-sex sex.

Over the years, scientists have added one creature after another to the list, making it clear that although nature may abhor a vacuum, it seems to be fine with just about everything else. But for sheer amazement, the mating behavior of the squid, Octopoteuthis deletron, has to rank near the top. And the same-sex part is the least of it.  The way the squid mate is something else. Little is known about the details but it seems that the male ejaculates a packet of sperm at the mating partner, and the packet turns inside out, essentially shooting the sperm contained in a membrane into the flesh of the partner, where they stay embedded until the female (if the shooter has been lucky) is ready to fertilize its eggs. If males are the recipient of these rocket sperm, they are just stuck with them. It is the kind of mating that would make a good video game…  Read the rest here at the NYT.

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