Friday, February 17, 2012

You Show Off! (part 2)

You can now take a deep breath everyone, Valentine's Day is over. Whether you got so sick of pink and red that it made you see red, or whether it's because you narrowly escaped forgetting the holiday altogether, you can relax knowing February 14 has come and gone.  Last week, I highlighted different techniques that both humans and animals share when it comes to impressing that certain someone.  This week, I would like to continue that list, touching on some techniques that either you witnessed others doing (and probably had a good laugh at) or dare I say, employed yourself.

Last week, I started off by talking about bird songs.  Birds and humans may be the first animals that come to mind when we think about singing, but plenty of other animals do it too: whales, canines, primates, and even alligators.  Male (and sometimes female) American alligators participate in bellowing, which is a deep vibration that resonates throughout their entire bodies and makes the water on their backs dance.  For you musicians out there, these bellowing bases belt out a B flat two octaves below middle C. Take that Barry White!

Hellooooooo, ladies!

If you are more of the type who would rather be seen than heard, you share the limelight with animals that participate in what I classify as non-aggressive displays (in other words, not fighting). 
We primp and preen, we put on the clothes that accentuate our best features (and hide our worst), arrange our hair just so, and literally strut our stuff. The animal kingdom has mastered this art as well. Fireflies flash their trademark lights, birds don spectacular plumage, and even the humble guppy comes in an array of colors, as always all to demonstrate superb genetic lineage.

And if that weren't enough, some animals as well humans up the ante by shaking their groove thing. Undoubtedly many of you have seen what has been called the "moonwalking bird", the red-capped manakin, who has the remarkable ability to channel Michael Jackson.
The manakin's dance begins at 2:00 (though the rest of the video is neat too)

Finally, there are those among us who have a "no holds barred" approach to courtship.  These individuals often provide the rest of us quite a bit of entertainment as they attempt insane daredevil feats. In the human world, it may often seem that those who fail get more attention than those who succeed! Course, these people probably aren't impressing too many ladies. One of the most impressive daredevil acts in the animal world can be found in...surprise surprise on The Nature Geek blog...birds. Some species of eagles do a fantastic display called cartwheeling, or whirling. This dance of sorts is used both between mates and rivals. Two birds will fly high into the air and then lock feet and spin towards the ground. In courtship, both birds let go. In a fight however, the cartwheel is like a game of chicken: the first bird to let go loses. 

Whether you participated in any of these or last week's methods of showing off or just watched in amusement, we humans are not alone in our methods of courtship. Just think, you now have an entire year to practice for next Valentine's Day!  Now if you'll excuse me, I have some Michael Jackson music to cue up.

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