Dr Adam Rutherford Profile picture
Feb 14, 2023 21 tweets 7 min read Read on X
You asked for it, a Valentines sex in nature thread 🧵
1) Adélie penguins: transactional sex: females will give it up for a smooth stone. Males copulate with dead females, their own offspring, other males, and sometimes ejaculate onto the ice. Didn't show that in Happy Feet.
2) Giraffes: the best evidence we have says that the vast majority of sexual encounters in giraffes are male to male, penetrative and ejaculatory, and follow bouts of necking.
3) Australian redback spiders never meet their dad, as his penultimate act of a male is to provide sperm to a female, and his ultimate gift to help with the pregnancy and guarantee his genes survive is a nutritious meal – his own head. This is called sexual cannibalism. #sexy
4) Swans mate for life, so they say. However, DNA fingerprinting reveals that they practice ‘social monogamy’, where a male and female also enjoy ‘extra-pair copulations’. And around 6% of life-long swan lovers divorce –a bit higher than the global average for humans.
5) Lobster don't do any of the things Jordan Peterson says, because he's ignorant and incurious about most aspects of evolutionary biology. And the urinate out of their faces. That's an aside really.
6) Marine iguanas take about 3 minutes to ejaculate. Smaller males get round the possibility of being yanked off by a bigger male when mounting a female by ejaculating before they mount, and keeping the sperm in a little pocket, so they don't need the full 3 minutes.
7) The Tegu and necrophilia. I will simply present the scientific paper by Ivan Sazima, entitled:

'Corpse bride irresistible: a dead female tegu lizard (Salvator merianae) courted by males for two days at an urban park in South-eastern Brazil'
That's all for now. I'll probably do a few more depending on how thirsty I get this evening.

This is all from my very serious work about human exceptionalism and behavioural modernity by the way.

8) Ah yes and of course sea otters. 1) Males drown females and use their carcasses for sex until they fall apart.
2) Sometimes, they fuck females so hard, that they die, and then (see 1).

Yes, the sea otters that hold hands when they sleep: you have bought their cute lies.
9) Female fruitbats perform oral sex on males DURING penetrative sex. Researchers have suggested this might be to delay ejaculation and prolong sex, but frankly those researchers are probably on crack.

Oh, and they do this hanging upside down.
10) If you're on your own tonight, and feeling experimental, a bottlenose dolphin was once observed masturbating with an electric eel on its penis.
11) Hyenas live in female dominated societies, where hierarchy is established by clitoral licking.
11.5)Their clits are large, which confused researchers for many years (and this is telling about patriarchal assumptions), cos they assumed many females were males, and referred to their sex organ as a pseudopenis.
Aside: you should read Bi by @drjuliashaw. It's fabulous and so is she.
12) There were 2 bears in Zagreb Zoo who performed a daily act of felatio, lasting 4 minutes, always the same giver/receiver, who hummed until completion. The write up suggests this is some sort of substitute for suckling, but maybe they just liked it.

Aside: here's a feature I wrote about the Book of Humans, with some sex, some tool use, some Peterson-bashing which is fish in a barrel).

13) And as for us, we have decoupled sex from its historical primary purpose. Out of every 1,000 sexual acts that could result in a baby, only one actually does. In statistics, this is classed as not very significant.

So, whatever you're up to or into, get consent, and enjoy!
I'm running out of steam here, but 14) Male Cape ground squirrels are promiscuous, and masturbate after copulation, we think, for hygiene reasons, protecting themselves from sexually transmitted diseases by flushing their tubes. But y'know...
Wait! My former editor @hollharl reminded me that 15) bedbugs Cimex lectularius pierce the abdomen of his mate with a pointy scythe-like aedeagus, and the sperm will find their way to the eggs via the internal organs of the female. This is known as ‘traumatic insemination’.
@hollharl 16) The hermaphrodite flatworm Pseudobiceros hancockanus do ‘penis fencing’. The winner pierces the head of the other with its spiked organ, and coerces the loser into adopting the female role in this relationship, and becoming the sperm receptacle and egg bearer.
@hollharl That's it! Happy Valentine's Day, sweet dreams lovers 💖🏳️‍🌈💜

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More from @AdamRutherford

May 6
A short thread on grammar, as the fewer/less crowd are outnabout. I used to really care until I started working regularly on @BBCRadio4, where I discovered that the most frequent complaints were from male grammar pedants.
They typically moaned about decimate, fewer/less, octopus and bacterium/bacteria. The thing about grammar pedants is that they’re not pedantic enough, and their corrections were often erroneous - stuff that is easy to Google - and born of doctrinaire oneupmanship.
And so I revised my position to be a descriptivist. Not everyone was taught the ‘correct’ form of grammar, which obviously, is entirely made up. The only thing that matters is effectiveness of communication. @OliverKamm is my Obi Wan on this matter.
Read 4 tweets
Feb 18
I’ve had some fun with the race wienies today - it’s almost as if I could write a book on how to argue with a racist. Anyway, here’s some of the highlights:
1) the credentialists. How can it be that I have a job in one of the best genetics departments on Earth, and the BBC?? 😘

2) ‘you’re a disingenuous retard’
3) ‘I understand population genetics cos I have eyes’. Wish I’d known it was that easy before spending all that time learning it
Read 9 tweets
Dec 15, 2023
I read a lot of books, and here are my non-fiction books of the year, just in time for presents, in no particular order.
1: Toxic by Sarah Ditum. Britney, Paris, Lindsay, Janet, Amy. These early-noughties mononym women who stood charged with being women at the juncture between the old media and the new. Will make you sad, angry and baffled. Image
2: Ultra-Processed People by @DoctorChrisVT revelations about an industrial complex that underlies so much of the health problems humankind faces, because our lives are flooded by food that is not food. Image
Read 14 tweets
Aug 4, 2023
I went to see Oppenheimer. It is hard to imagine a film that I disliked more intensely. Apart from Tenet.

Positives: acting is fabulous, cinematography beautiful, music a bit overbearing but massive.
Negatives <deep breath>
* learn to write dialogue. People don’t speak like that. Every sentence is designed to elicit a zinger or exposition point in response.
* the editing is frenetic. Intercutting from different locations, colour/black and white, mad angles that make no sense.
The whole film is a montage.
Read 10 tweets
Jun 9, 2023

Carry on.
Oh screw it.

Bottlenose dolphins form gangs and kidnap teenage female dolphins to sexually assault.
Fuck you Flipper.
Adelie Penguins masturbate openly, engage in transactional sex, and sometimes shag dead penguins.

Didn't see that with Morgan Freeman voice over.
Read 9 tweets
May 23, 2023
🚨 Genetics is PROBABILISITIC, not deterministic 🚨 This is a fundamental aspect of inheritance. The idea that being in possession of a certain version of a gene - an allele - determines a trait is incorrect, and you will fail 1st yr Introduction to Genetics if you write that.
Next: For the most part, the way we understand the influence of certain alleles - e.g. taste preferences - comes from studies in populations, and do not directly or deterministically translate to individuals.
The idea that behaviours are influenced by genetics is neither new nor surprising. EVERYTHING is influenced by both genetics and the environment. And here's where the history is important.
Read 25 tweets

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