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Fourteen Fun Facts About Love and Sex in the Animal Kingdom

Don't let the headline fool you. These 14 facts about sex among different species range from sad or mildly gross to truly horrifying. Mating can often mean death, but if it's required for the species to remain extant, they consider it worth the risk. For example, the cute little guy pictured here is an antechinus. He's probably only got one shot at a sex life.

For a two- or three-week stretch in early spring, Australian forests reverberate with the sexual shenanigans of the male antechinus. These tiny, tireless marsupials can engage in a single intimate encounter for 14 hours straight. Desperate, virile and indefatigable, each of these bitty boys will mate with as many females as possible, plugging away until the fur sloughs off his skin, his immune system fails and blood pools around his organs. In a grand culmination of this fornication feat, the male antechinus physically disintegrates: He quite literally boinks himself to death, usually just shy of his first birthday.

So-called suicidal reproduction might sound absurd, but vigorous, organ-shredding sex is the antechinus males’ way of outcompeting each other in the reproductive race to father the most young.

Read about traumatic insemination, urine tasting, penis fencing, and other mating habits in the animal kingdom at Smithsonian. 

(Image credit: Mel Williams)


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