Nature Notebook – Animal Courtship Behaviors

Valentine’s Day. The time when human courtship behaviors lead naturalists to share some tidbits about animal courtship behaviors.

A 2016 study of Cretaceous dinosaurs found that courtship displays have been going on for a long time. Scientists observed scrape marks that are similar to those that present day ground-nesting male birds produce as they woo females.

Some spiders utilize flamboyant behaviors to not only secure a willing partner but keep them from becoming a meal for a non-willing partner. A male black widow spider literally dances for his life on a female’s web. His movement pattern must be distinctly different from one produced by the flailing of trapped prey…or he becomes the prey. A jumping spider dances and flashes his intended…with skin patches that reflect ultraviolet light. A female flashes fluorescent green palps (small leg-like appendages close to the mouth) to signal her receptiveness.

Breeding is the “last hurrah” for a male antechinus mouse. For two weeks he does nothing but mate. Then he dies. Now that’s dedication.