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In which John discusses the strange and fascinating mating habits of the giant squid, and then ponders why the sexual and reproductive habits of so many animals tend to be inefficient and--to humans at least--very strange.


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A Bunny
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((') (')
Good morning, Hank.

It's Friday, December 3rd. As you can possibly tell by the lamp shaped like a jellyfish, I'm not in my house. Instead, Hank, I'm in Miami with its beautiful beaches and its palm trees and its fancy art fairs, none of which I get to enjoy!

Because even though I mentioned earlier that it is December 3rd, I still haven't finished NAFADOYBIMSCOM, National Finish A Draft Of Your Book I Mean Seriously Come On Month! It's like it's still November! Ahhhhh!

I'm a giant squid of anger! Well, Hank I've got to put aside the giant squid of anger in my heart because today we have to talk about giant squids of love. But even more importantly, I want to discuss with you why I am so fascinated by the sex lives of species different from us.

Okay, Hank, so here is the giant squid: Majestic, very secretive. We don't know what they eat. We don't know how deep they're able to dive.

We don't know what they do for fun. And we don't really know for sure how they mate. But we've got some ideas, and they involve penile fire-hoses.

Alright, Hank, so most squid have eight arms; two longer tentacles that they use for feeding; and one hectocotylus, which is kind of like a penis except it falls off every time they have sex. Like, they put it into the girl squid, and then the girl squid kind of breaks it off. Giant squids don't have a hectocotylus, instead they have a three-foot-long penis, and like a lot of invertebrates they produce spermatophores, which are like these sacks that contain sperm.

But, unfortunately, female giant squid anatomy doesn't really give you a convenient place to put that spermatophore, and that's where the fire-hose comes in. Hank, in the last 48 hours I've read so much about giant squid sex that I'm surprised the hotel still lets me have internet. And so, I can tell you that without fail researchers who are hypothesizing about giant squid sex always refer to the male squid penis as a fire-hose.

Because what they think happens is the male squid's penis approaches a female squid's arm and then, like a fire-hose, shoots a spermatophore into the arm. At which point, the female, as you can imagine, is like "Oh! What did you just do to me!" Which is actually bad for the males because the females are much larger, and that, biologists think, is why the male squid penis is so long: so they don't have to get too close to the females in order to inseminate them.

Now, Hank, I'm not an expert in the field, but it seems to me that fire-hosing your spermatophore into a lady arm is not a pleasant or even very efficient method of reproduction. And it makes me wonder: Why? Why don't they just find a better way to do it?

But from an evolutionary perspective, is it ultimately more helpful to have an efficient mating system, or is it more helpful to have, say, an eye that's a foot freakin' wide, which is what giant squids have. In fact, we see examples over and over in our world - we've been talking about them all week - of incredibly inefficient mating. Hank, its almost as if sex is not actually the most important thing that animals, including humans, do.

And Hank, I believe that is one thing giant squids are trying to tell us. I've got to go back to my story, but Hank I will see you on Monday. Ah!

Nerdfighters, I almost forgot, but because you proved that space pasta is far less efficient than Earth beef, you now get to challenge us to do something difficult and/or horrible. I should add, however, that a nerdfighter named Stanage did some research suggesting that space pasta might actually be more efficient than Earth beef if we use the space shuttle to pick it up instead of Apollo 11, provided that there was already space pasta on the moon. But sadly, at least as far as we know, there isn't space pasta on the moon.

At any rate, you figured it out so you get to challenge us. Leave you suggestions for challenges in the comments and upvote you favorites and as always: DFTBA.