Top Story: February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine’s Day!

SAO/NASA/JAXA/NAOJ

Happy Valentine’s Day, dear readers! We thought we’d share some lovin’ headlines with you today to get you in the mood…

We wrote about barnacle penises yesterday—both the well- and the not-so-well- endowed variety—so let’s start there, with other creatures.

How about the hermaphroditic nudibranch, or sea slug, that loses its penis after sex, only to grow a new one? Here’s how the lead researcher of a study, Ayami Sekizawa, describes it in Science News: “New tissue emerges like lead in a mechanical pencil.”

And the American alligator? In Ed Yong’s blog on National Geographic yesterday, here was the description of its penis: “… it’s permanently erect; it shoots out like toothpaste from a tube; and it bounces back because it basically has a rubber band attached to it.” (Click on the link above for more details. There’s also a video I couldn’t bring myself to watch. Maybe you’re braver.)

The New York Times has a story about how size matters for mating humpback whales—the whale’s entire body size, that is.

And even ugly guppies stand a chance at love, according to ScienceShot.

Oh, the things we do for love… An early example? Oviraptorosaurs possibly shook their tail feathers to impress members of the opposite sex. Maybe that’s where birds of paradise learned to do their dance. Wasps forgo the dancing. According to ScienceNOW, a male wasp “releases a chemical calling card in the form of pheromones, broadcasting his location, his availability, and, most importantly, his identity.” And it works! Male jays offer their mates delicious gifts of mealworm or moth larvae. So sweet!

Want more? Here are females just as promiscuous as males, monogamous hawksbill sea turtles, and even more monogamous owl monkeys.

Did you know that, according to New Scientist, “when you kiss your partner passionately, not only do you exchange bacteria and mucus, you also impart some of your genetic code?”

Have you ever seen a broken-hearted scientist? It’s not pretty. This one is so, so sad about the yeast no longer in his life that he made a music video.

Finally, how about Valentines in space? Wired and Scientific American deliver two.

Enjoy with some chocolate and love, Valentine!

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