Thursday, April 5, 2007

my favorite fish

Giant cuttlefish off the coast of Australia, long known as masters of camouflage, can use their color-changing abilities in a remarkable act of sexual deception: smallish males, unfit for winning wrestling matches with stronger rivals, disguise themselves as females in order to elude their adversaries and discretely mate with the genuine article (see image at left, which shows a female mimic sneaking below a large male). It's astounding, but not entirely unusual. The animal kingdom is rife with such "sneaker" males as well as an array of courtship and mating tactics more devious than any found in a Harlequin romance.