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Weird Biology



"Reproduction is no fun if you're a squid," said a biologist at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, referring especially to the deep-sea squid. Finding a mate a mile down in pitch-darkness is hard enough, but the combination of males that are smaller and fearful of being overpowered and females whose reception of sperm involves being stabbed makes the insemination process especially traumatic. Sperm deposits can be extensive and burdensome to the female and are delivered by the reckless slashing of the skin by the male. In fact, according to a December report in Germany's Der Spiegel, in the darkness the male sometimes misses the female altogether and inseminates himself.

Princeton University scientists, reporting in January on research in Peru, said they observed aggressive, carnivorous behavior for the first time among dung beetles, which decapitated and ate millipedes. Dung beetles were not known previously to be fussy eaters (except for a 2006 study in which they seemed to prefer horse dung to camel dung or sheep dung).

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