When Cross-dressing Has its Advantages

30 January 2005


Researchers studying the giant Australian cuttlefish have found that males of the species often successfully resort to the marine equivalent of cross-dressing to father offspring. During the mating season, fertile females are usually jealously guarded by large males, preventing smaller males from getting a look in. So the smaller animals often disguise themselves as females, by changing colour and arranging their tentacles in a more feminine fashion, in order to slip past the male consorts lurking nearby. Whilst this strategy is often very successful at winning them an, albeit brief, audience with the female, no one knew whether they actually succeeded in fathering any young this way. So Roger Hanlon and his colleagues have genetically fingerprinted a number cross dressing males whom they saw initiating successful matings, together with the resulting offspring. They found two out of three of the matings resulted in successful fertilisation showing, that when it comes to sex, deception sometimes pays off !


Add a comment