Science

Sea Slug Mating Ritual Is Both Beautiful and Horrifying

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“I didn’t choose the slug life, the slug life chose me.” – slugs, probably. You know these guys, the naked snails that the deranged kid down the block used to cover in salt for his own cruel amusement. But, did you know slugs live underwater, too? (“But wait,” you’re saying, “the ocean is full of salt! Get out of there, slugs!”) Sea slugs are strange creatures, much more bizarre than your average landlocked garden visitor. And they just got a little weirder. According to the New York Times, scientists report they’ve filmed an Australian sea slug doing a mesmerizing – and horrifying – type of mating dance.

The sea slug, something called Siphopteron, is hermaphroditic, meaning each little creature has both male and female reproductive organs and each partner, whilst getting it on, both gets and gives sperm to his-and-her lover. Slugs are post-gender, sex-positive revolutionaries. Give them a Sarah Lawrence diploma already. But that’s not unusual to Siphopteron, since lots of its sea slug pals are also hermaphrodites, and some apparently have “a kind of double-ended penis” that shoots sperm out of one side and prostate fluid out of the other. Neat!

What makes the discovery of this sea slug’s mating ritual so exciting also makes it terrifying. Basically, the slug stabs its advanced techno-penis right into the forehead of its partner and injects its hormones there. No other slug squirts its payload directly into its partner’s central nervous system. (And, I imagine, not many non-slugs do that, either. You can be the one to check YouPorn.) Scientists think this might be an effort on the slug’s behalf to trigger its partner into laying as many eggs as possible. At the very least, it means sea slugs can’t use a headache as an excuse not to give it up. Try telling him you have an early meeting?

Image via Veer

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