Marriage ceremonies of animals, Pisces, Amphibians, Reptiles...

Marriage ceremony of animals

In the ritual of the marriage ceremony, many species of animals, starting with the most primitive, include a kind of marriage dances.

Invertebrates. Movements, which can be described as mating dances, are noted in polychaete worms and nudibranchs. Quite complex rituals associated with reproduction, show many species of spiders, millipedes and crustaceans. Among the invertebrates, some arthropods are an interesting marriage ceremony.

Sometimes marriage ceremonies are very difficult. Thus, K. Lorenz gives an example of the mating ritual of some species of predatory flies - ktyrei. The female is larger than the male in size, so it does not make it difficult to eat it during mating. In order for this to happen, the male immediately before mating brings her a large enough insect to donate, which the female will eat during the whole process. In the closely related bodies of the species - a non-predatory northern tosser - there is also a ceremony of presenting the gift. Males of these flies weave beautiful white balls out of the web, which visually attract the female. In these balls they wrap small insects and present them to the female, which in fact never out of the marital ritual of insects does not eat. Males sometimes do not put an insect inside the ball, but females still accept the gift without any aggression. Gift gift is widely distributed among invertebrates. This feature allows the male to fertilize several females. In many species of spiders, a female after mating most often simply eats a male.


In fish, the movements of males during spawning are of a special nature, which some authors also equate to "dances". So, sazans and pods describe more or less prolonged "love games". When there is one male near the female, it actually produces a series of unusual and strange movements, sometimes reminiscent of jumping. Fish, holding flocks, during the spawning period produce movements of a special kind. So, for example, carp in the mating season drives peculiar "round dances". At the same time a flock of these fish from the middle of the pond swims to the shore, making circular movements, as one organized whole. Inside this dance Individual individuals also make circular motions. In principle, peculiar marriage dances are characteristic for most species of fish. In this case, males of many species acquire a vivid color and perform many demonstrative fin motions. The best way to study the marital behavior of the three-pricked stickleback - Tingbergen's favorite experimental object. Above it has been said that the male reacts only to the swollen belly of the female, and the female responds to the red lower part of the male (in contrast to the female of the ten-headed stickleback, which reacts to the black color of the male). Consider the marriage ceremonies of these fish in more detail. First the male is looking for a site. Then he drives out other fish from his territory: he becomes a vertical upward tail and twitches with his whole body. If the opponent does not retreat, he begins to bite the sand with his mouth. In extreme cases, the male stickleback turns to the alien with the broad side of the body and protrudes two large abdominal needles. This threatening gesture borders on despair. When the stickleback is not disturbed, it is busy building a nest: it gathers sand into its mouth and pours it to one side, then brings in its mouth different blades of grass and scraps of algae and presses them into the resulting pit. Parts of plants stickleback sticks together mucus, which is released from the kidneys. Only when the nest is ready, the male changes color, and only the belly becomes red, and the back acquires a bright light blue shade. When a flock of sticklebacks floats by, a male in front of one of the fish "dances" zigzag dance: at first it turns away, as if it is about to sail away from the female, and then sharply goes to it with a wide-open mouth. This discourages most females, but does not affect the ready-to-spawn female. Usually she responds to courtship by bending the body down, as the male dances below it. Then the male accompanies her to the nest. He shows the entrance to the nest with a special movement: he lies on his side, his head towards the entrance.

The male can perform a zigzag dance in front of the fish of another species. If one of these fish follows it, it will cause a chain reaction of further sexual reflexes, but due to reproductive isolation, pairing is unlikely. After the fish sweeps out the eggs, the marriage comes to an end. The whole task of the female stickleback during reproduction is to sweep out the eggs. Caring for eggs and fry is a function of the male.

Marriage ceremonies similar to those described in sticklebacks are noted in a number of other fish (Figure 12.5). Many males also lay down flat on the bottom, beat their tail on the water and whirl. A zigzag dance performed by a male serves as an invitation to the female to spawn or a nest built by a male.

Male cichlid fish to attract females build various structures from the ground, for example, dig pits or pour entire mounds. Males of one of the representatives of this family gain a whole bunch of empty shells into which females lay eggs. Before the termination of a laying the male does not allow females to leave these refuges.

Marriage of a seahorses dance

Fig. 12.5. Dance of the Seahorses


The overwhelming number of amphibians constantly lives on land, but reproduces in the aquatic environment, and in this connection some changes occur in their bodies during the mating season, concerning both physiology and appearance. In most amphibians, as already mentioned, fertilization is external: the male and female release sexual products into the water where fertilization takes place. Despite the absence of special copulatory organs, some tailed amphibians have internal fertilization. It occurs unusual and unknown in other vertebrate animals. During mating games, the male lays off a sperm sac, the so-called spermatophore, and the female grabs it with its cloaca.

Many amphibians acquire a bright nuptial dress during the mating period, for example, in the comb, Asia Minor and other species of newts, a tall jagged crest grows from the head to the end of the tail, and they themselves acquire a bright spotted color. During courtship, the males of the newts chase the females, hinder their movements, being located in front of them and showing a straightened comb and bright side. The wriggling male tail periodically touches the female and even wraps it around.

Fairly complex marital behavior is demonstrated by anuran amphibians. So, bright green tree frogs-tree frogs for breeding choose stagnant reservoirs with the banks overgrown with tall plants - trees, reeds, shrubs. Males sit either in water or on these plants and "singing" attract females. The mating signal of the males consists of rhythmic series of sharp sounds - thanks to the developed resonators sounds are obtained quite strong and audible at a sufficiently large distance. Penis It is especially intense in the evening hours, but some males "sing" and in the afternoon. The spawning pond is usually collected by all the local males of the tree frog. Females come to the breeding site for a short while, only lay eggs, and males keep here for the entire period. The number of males in a body of water usually exceeds the number of females, so competition is taking place between males. It manifests itself in the form of an intense, attractive female "quotation" and in the protection of a certain section of the reservoir, where the male does not allow his opponents. As a rule, larger and stronger males conquer and retain territory, they also "sing" louder than others. But some of the mallard males who failed to take possession of the territory still managed to leave offspring. Small males choose a place near the singing large ones and, on occasion, intercept the females heading towards them.


The males of many lizards behave during courtship as in border conflicts. They show the female its size, increasing them by inflating the throat, torso, lifting the body above the ground. Female, on the contrary, as it were, diminishes its size, pressing to the ground. By this behavior they switch the aggressive mood of the male to the mating one. During the breeding period, the males of many lizards become exceptionally bright, they have characteristic signal gestures and postures preceding the marriage games.

Many snakes in the mating season form quite large clusters. In this case, several males often claim one female. In this case, a group of snakes is formed, which is sometimes called the "marriage ball". So, in ordinary snakes observed similar tangles, consisting of more than 20 individuals. In this case, rivals try to mechanically prevent each other from mastering the female, but never bite. Some types of snakes describe marriage dances. So, for example, ordinary vipers during the mating season gather in small groups - three to five individuals each. At this time between the males are the famous marriage tournaments or dances of vipers (Figure 12.6). In the course of such a ritual duel, two males try to literally take the upper hand over the enemy - to pinch his head and front part of the body to the ground. They rise above the ground, each striving to rise above the opponent; sometimes their bodies are intertwined, they seem to creep up one another. Opponents can push their heads, try to overturn each other, but never inflict bites on each other. In the end, the pyramid of intertwined snakes collapses. It is not clear how the winner is revealed, but one of the opponents is inferior and creeps away from the place of the fight. Wins, as a rule, a larger male.

Vip dance of vipers

Fig. 12.6. Vipers dance of vipers

Matrimonial fights are also observed in turtles. In spring, after the end of winter hibernation, the breeding season begins for land tortoises. During this period, the peaceful and phlegmatic males become aggressive, bite each other by the head and paws, causing mutilations at the same time. In the fight for the female, several males can participate at once. But these marriage tournaments do not end in a fatal outcome - the stronger male wins, the defeated one does not run away, despite the brines. During mating in the habitats of turtles, one can hear a thudding sound - the male expels the female from the shelter by striking the front edge of its abdominal shield against the dorsal shield of the female. Approaching her closely, the male rises high on all four legs, hides his head under the shell and several times strikes it on the top of the shell. If the female ignores persistent courtship and crawls away, the male runs ahead, bites her by the paws and again strikes her with a shell. This continues until the female stops and mating occurs, during which the male opens his mouth wide and makes hoarse sounds.


A lot of original marriage ceremonies are demonstrated by birds. So, in the process of meeting wild ducks first swim towards each other and drink water. A young duck, who has looked after a drake herself, screams invocably to another drake. When they are both with her, the duck sets one on the other. Challenging an opponent, the drake swims around the duck with its head extended and its beak lowered down. The feathers on the head are still uncovered. Suddenly, drakes stand upright in water, sideways to each other, then ruffle feathers on their heads. The duel is ritualistic and is a simple demonstration before the female. Drains are hostile not only to males, but also to foreign females. This ensures a uniform placement of married couples.

Marriage unions of geese are particularly strong. Leaving his family, the young gander must take his place in the family group of goose, but first the father of the chosen one chases him and beats. Therefore, the male begins the courting ceremony from afar: first he simply swims past and back, then attacks the inhabitants of the pond in order to show his strength. After each victory, he sails to his betrothed and giggles triumphantly. If her father chases him, he swims away, if not - waiting for the reciprocal gotta goose. In the end, the young gander usually still manages to gain favor from both the future spouse and the "father-in-law".

The male stork, having chosen a nest, sits and waits for the arrival of the female, invoking clapping beak. To the female, who will respond to the greeting, the male takes. However, since storks use nests for many years, it sometimes happens that the last year's female returns to the nest and if there is already a new one in the nest, a struggle begins between them, leading to the expulsion of one of them. The male takes no part in this struggle and passively waits for the victory of one of the females.

The current birds are peculiar in their unusual movements, aimed at demonstrating the brightest parts of their plumage. So, the well-known current of black grouses, which are sometimes collected by many dozens of males. Current black grouses make series of certain movements, accompanied by specific sounds (Figure 12.7). Each male occupies a certain place on the current, the strongest and most experienced males located in the middle of the current, and the young ones in the periphery. The place of current, or, as it is called by hunters, the current, usually exists for many years and is visited from year to year by the same birds, as well as grown young. Female black grouse, living in the vicinity of the current, well know the location of its location. Small groups of females, consisting of two to four individuals, arrive in the current area and on foot cross individual sites of males, thus making a choice of sexual partners. In this case, they prefer central males.

Grouse Current

Fig. 12.7. Grouse Current

Similar currents are also described in a number of other species of birds: ruffs, duples, wood grouses, etc.

Peacock does not run after the pavs, he waits for them, spreading his tail. It attracts females. When the female begins to walk around the male, it is unperturbed, then turns around to the rear. Pava, wanting to admire the male, runs into the front to the peacock, but he again turns to her back. She again runs to the front, and so many times, until she bends her legs, lies in front of him - then he screams victoriously and the marriage ceremony ends.

The marriage behavior of the lyrebird is very interesting. This bird is quite inconspicuous in its color and uses feminine demonstrations to attract females. Lyrebird is able to reproduce all the sounds heard. His song combines engine and engine whistles, bell ringing, dog barking, horse neighing and much more.

Females of many species of birds in the process of marriage ceremony demonstrate the behavior of the chick. Females of passerine birds at the same time draw their heads, crouch, drop their wings, tremble with them and squeak like chicks. From the male in response, it is required to depict feeding. Some species regurgitate food from the goiter and feed the female, others - limited to saliva, the third - just touch the beak of the beak of the female, and this is called ritual feeding. Some water birds bring the fish to the female or just a bunch of grass from the bottom, and the birds of the hut - nicks - of bright insects, flowers, various unusual objects.


In addition to the actual pursuit of the female, the males are characterized during the mating season and other actions that together with the response of the female "marriage games". The male attracts the attention of the female with characteristic gestures, sounds (screaming, snoring, clicking the teeth, striking the feet on the ground), etc. When there are several males near the female, fights usually occur between them.

The course of the reindeer rut is well studied. The mating season begins with the roar of the males in the fall, which at first is heard only at night (or at dawn), but then it becomes more frequent and in the midst of the rut it sounds throughout the day.

Roaring animal has extremely excited views: neck swollen, bloodshot eyes, the body produces a pungent smell. Deer hooves hit the ground, headway, embossing characteristic site - point & quot ;, and has a breaking horns threads bushes. On roaring start to gather the females, but at the same time it attracts other males - it leads to fights ending harassment of the weaker, and in some cases the death of one of the contenders. The winner - an adult strong male - keeps the harem of the females that are before him until he covers them all. During the rutting period, males in many hoofed animals capture and protect certain areas. In noble deer, the territorial division between the males, as it were, is superimposed on the existing long time division of the territory between groups of females and young animals. His roar, smell odorous secretion glands and urine on the ground, the marks on the bark of trees to be applied to the horns of the males indicate to each other about the place of employment, and, if necessary, come with an opponent in a duel. The deer who do not take their part do not have a harem of females either. Thus, the number of males participating in reproduction is limited.

Characteristic features have a mating season in another harem species - fur seals. In the spring, these animals sail to the islands of the northern Pacific Ocean, where males come out to separate parts of the coast, forming rookeries. Each old male - a sliver - is located at some distance from the neighboring one and captures a separate haulout site. As these females appear on these sites, the sneakers combine them into groups under their protection, thus creating harems with a number of up to 30-50 females and more in each. The females go ashore one to two days before the birth of the young. Formation of harems continues after the appearance of newborns. During the fights and pursuit of the females, the sneakers are squashed by a part of the young, and cases of abduction of females by sweepers from neighboring harems are also noted. Soon after the birth of the young, the seals begin a mating season lasting about three months. During the nuptial period, the sewers are on the shore and hardly feed. Between the scoundrels, cruel battles often occur for the possession of females. By the end of the period of the harem life and the long "marriage post" the males are extremely exhausted, start to go to the sea for feeding and soon completely leave rookeries, migrating south to wintering grounds. As already mentioned, the severe depletion of males during the rut and mating fast affects the mortality of polygam.

Otherwise, the mating season for animals that do not collect harems. In foxes, the gon starts with a special "palling", published by the hunted females. Several males come running to this sound; between them fights are fastened. The female does not stand still, and the males follow it in a string. A similar phenomenon is observed in dogs. It received the name of foxes and canine "weddings". In squirrels, one female also persistently pursues several males, this chase occurring partly on the ground, partly on trees. In hares the chasing group consists of several males and females, while the males give out a special kind of screaming, jumping on each other on the run and hitting hard with their hind legs.

Typical manifestations of gon are noted in whales. The males of humpback whales during the rut show excitement, clapping each other with huge pectoral fins, rolling from side to side, jumping out of the water. Especially violently, with fights, the gong is running near a polygamous sperm whale. Male dolphins grab each other's teeth by the fins, chasing at a high speed for the female.

Not always the gong follows the described scheme. In reindeer, for example, typical fights between males sometimes precede the beginning of a roar, and do not follow it. Often ahead of the gong pairing in squirrels and some other animals. In foxes, it is observed that males covered by females are left behind and secondary rivalry due to pregnant females.

A peculiar trait of gon in muskrats is a very similar behavior of individuals of both sexes. Hunting females themselves are actively searching for males, entering fights among themselves. In the practice of animal husbandry and fur farming, cases are known where the female, violating the usually inherent obedience to the strongest male, gives one of the males a clear preference for others who are violently distracted by it.

In connection with the fights that occur during the mating season between males for possession of a female, deer developed a special tournament weapon in the form of horns (Figure 12.8). The fact that the horns are found only in males develop to the breeding season and are discarded at its end, indicating their true purpose. The branched horns reduce the mortality of males, which, of course, is in the interest of the species. But sometimes this branching causes the death of both rivals, when in a fierce battle, clinging to the horns, they can not disperse. The cases of the death of roe-deer roe deer, elks, deer, marals, etc. are described. Horns are used for tournament use and a significant part of the Polar bears (bent backwards or inward antelopes, goats, sheep and some bulls are relatively harmless). Musk deer have a tournament value of long, sharp, strongly prominent downward fangs.

Tournament of noble deer

Fig. 12.8. Tournament of noble deer

The reindeer in this respect stand alone, the females also have horns, and in females they are dumped much later (by spring, while adult males drop them at the beginning of winter). This feature is associated with nutrition: shoveling the front legs of the snow and bending over the hole dug in it, the female involuntarily covers it with its branchy horns, closing access to the found food to other deer, even stronger.

The danger of a non-tournament weapon used in marital fights is somewhat reduced by the characteristics of combat techniques and the development of protective devices, most often in the form of long hair in the most vulnerable places. In the wild boar to the period of the rut on the front part of the trunk, under the skin, a kind of shell of kalkan is formed - a very dense connective tissue layer that protects well from the opponent's blows. A similar adaptation is found in male walruses, and the neck and chest of male seals are covered with thick long wool. However, these devices do not fully provide protection. For example, wrestling male boars try to hit the enemy through an unprotected volcano belly, and the weaker often die from severe intestinal damage or suppuration of wounds. In male feline seals, fights often result in eye injuries, severe breaches of integument and other injuries.

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