Just like humans, animals mate to procreate. Here are my five favorite examples of animal mating behaviors, mentioned in David Buss’s classic evolutionary psychology book called the EVOLUTION OF DESIRE. I highly recommend this book. It’s a life-changing, easy-read and scientific report on sexual desire and evolved psychological mechanisms in humans.

Elephant seals – Males use the tusks to beat the rival males in head-to-head fights. The winners, usually the larger, more aggressive males control sexual access to females while the losers fail to secure mates (Lebouf, 1974). The winner elephant seals have his harem, which usually contains a dozen or more females. About 5 percent of the male elephant seals monopolized 85 percent of females. Females also chose the stronger and bigger winner. IF the other smaller males try to mate with the females, the females usually emit the loud signals to the alpha male. The dominant male comes over and the smaller ones have to run away. Sneaky attempt fails. What about in humans? Do athletic, muscular and dominant males get more females than other males?

Mating scene with elevated Alpha Male.  Elephant Seals of Piedras Blancas, San Simeon, CA, 31 Jan 2009.  Photo by Michael "Mike" L. Baird, bairdphotos.com, Canon 1D Mark III, 300mm f/2.8 IS on gimbal head and sturdy tripod.

LoveBugs- In animal kingdom, there is one type of insect known as lovebug, Plecia nearctica, Female lovebugs usually fly into the swarm of males in the morning. The males fight with other males and the successful male leaves the swarm with the female and mate somewhere else on the ground (Thornhill & Alkock , 1983). The males remain in copulation positions for several days. Perhaps, because other males would attempt to mate with the females and the male bugs would fail in securing his genetic legacy. This is so much like human mate guarding. Male love bug seems like a jealous and watchful partner would usually check in to see if his partner is being unfaithful. 11116291074_94f1e14991

Gray Shrike-Another example is the gray shrike that lives in the Negev Desert of Israel, gathers edible prays, and other items such as feathers and pieces of clothes, ranging form 90 to 120. The males then hang and show of their collected items on the thorns to females during the mating seasons (Yosef, 1991).. Females prefer mating with the males that have the largest collections. Females avoided males without resources. This makes me think about how women have no genetic interests in men without resources (money).Lanius_excubitor_2_Marek_Szczepanek

Gladiator Frogs-The other example of animal mating example mentioned in the book is gladiator frog. Males have to defend the nests. Females usually try bumping the stationary and resting males several times (Trivers, 1985). When the males move too far away from the nest because of bumping by females, females lose mating interests and find potential mates, revealing the male’s physical ability to protect the nests. How is that so different from us? Women prefer men of size, strength and physical prowess.Do women often test the guy to see if he is “Mr. Right”?


Scorpionfly -This is by far my most favorite animal mating behaviors. A female scorpionfly refues to mate with male scorpionfly unless he brings the nuptial gifts, usually insects for the female to eat (Thornhill, 1980). Male holds on the gift loosely so that female would not take it and run away. During the time while female is eating the insect, males copulate. Males take about 20 minutes to deposit the sperms fully. Therefore when the females finish eating earlier, the males fail to deposit the sperms and natural selection has favored males that find the nuptial gifts that usually take about 20 minutes for females to finish. Men also stop giving women resources when they are divorced. Phew! At least we still have legal system for men to keep sharing resources! Good!


These animal mating behaviors were some fascinating examples described in David Buss’s book, but his book focuses entirely on human mating. The book unlocks the mystery by providing explanations of why humans universally share preferences of certain characteristics in mates!

Reproduction is important. We won’t be here if one of our ancestor fail to reproduce. Apparently, those who have failed have not become our ancestors. How special are we? I don’t know. I think the very distinct feature of our love life is that we marry. We, social animals, get approval from other people in the society. I think no other animal “marries.”


The writing is just a personal reflection and a review of some thoughts and examples I love in the book. Anyway, if you would like to get some insights into mating behaviors in humans, get it on amazon. The price is affordable http://www.amazon.com/Evolution-Desire-Revised-4/dp/046500802X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1446328158&sr=8-1&keywords=The+Evolution+of+Desire


Buss, D. (1994). The evolution of desire.

Le Boeuf, B. J. (1974). Male-male competition and reproductive uccess in elephant seals. American Zoology, 14, 163-176.

Thornhill, R. (1980). Mate choice in Hylobittacus apicalis (Insecta: Mecoptera) and its relation to some models of female choice. Evolution, 34, 519-538.

Thornhill, R., & Alcock, J. (1983). The evolution of insect mating systems. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Trivers, R. (1985). Social evolution. Menlo Park, CA: Benjamin/Cummings.

Yosef, R. (1991, June). Females seek males with ready cache. Natural History, p. 37.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s