When it comes to sex, males and females are not always equal in their desires. Similar to the struggle between a parasite and its host, some species are locked in an evolutionary arms race between the sexes, with each gender battling to put its best interests forth.
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Although male and female sexual preferences and tactics are going variable as the thousands of species they represent, a particular species of snake provides an interesting example of conflict that can occur during mating itself, researchers describe in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.
The authors focused their paper on an intimate discussion of brown and round nude gif garter snake behaviors.
When red-sided garter snakes are ready to mate, several dozen males find their way to a snakes. Rather than pick the nicest looking or most impressive male, mating is more of a crapshoot for the female, with the closest male latching on as soon as the female presents herself by opening her cloaca, an orifice that leads into the vagina.
But sometimes, things get a bit ugly: In doing so, however, she opens up her cloaca, effectively allowing the males to sneak in and get what they want. Female red-sided garter snakes, not surprisingly, prefer to get copulation over and done with.
They attempt to bid their mate goodbye as soon as he has handed over his sperm, and sometimes, even sooner than that. This way, females can get on with their business—which oftentimes entails finding another mate of their choosing. The males, however, prefer to stick around. The longer they hold on, the more sperm they can transfer and the less chance that another male will snag their female.
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Sometimes, males take their mate guarding to extremes. Over the next few days, however, the plug will dissolve, giving the female a second chance at selecting a mate of her choice under less frantic circumstances.
Finally, to further aid in mating, males of red-sided garter snakes and some other species evolved a special organ whose name and appearance resembles something from a medieval torture chamber: They also scooped up newly emerged females, and put two of those females into a small outdoor enclosure with the males. They allowed the snakes to mate naturally while they monitored the duration of copulation, the behaviors involved and whether or not the vaginas left a mating plug behind.
Males that copulated for five minutes or more were more likely to leave a plug behind, they found, and the longer the copulation period, the larger the plug.
Afterwards, they divided the males into two groups.