These Anglerfish Are Sexual Parasites That Die Without Their Lovers


This is a female anglerfish and this is her
mate. And these are her other mates. They are all locked lovers for life because…
well… the males have no choice. There are several hundred species of anglerfish,
and a some suborders show extreme sexual dimorphism – meaning females can be up to 60 times longer
and half a million times heavier than males. Their size difference makes them ideal candidates
for a bizarre phenomenon known as sexual parasitism. Basically, males need females to survive and
females need males to reproduce. But in the vast darkness and depths of the
open ocean, finding each other can be an almost impossible task. To stand a chance, male anglerfish need to
use their disproportionally large nostrils to track the pheromonal cues of their lady
loves and their complex and well-developed eyes, so that they can confirm a female’s
identity. Females can also flash their bioluminescent
esca or ‘lure,’ to ensure that they attract a partner of the same species. When a male does find a female in the deep
sea, he won’t ever let her go – because he can’t. Some parasitic male anglerfish lack a working
digestive system, so in order to survive they need to tap into the resources of female anglerfish. They do this by fuse-mating aka sexual parasitism. Males use their specialized hooked teeth to
latch onto the female and then they release an enzyme that dissolves the skin between
them. This gives males direct access to the female’s
digestive system for nutrition and her circulatory system for gas exchange. In return, he’ll give her sperm. But this doesn’t mean the male can get lazy
because his sperm is competing with several other males that also call this female home. At any given time a female can be host up
to eight sperm-donating mates so it’s important that they all produce the very best swimmers. Male anglerfish can live a long happy life…
that is until their sugar momma dies and then they’ll follow shortly after, which is,
I guess, romantic, in a dark Shakespearean kinda way. If you want to see more copulation creations,
check out this Wild Sex playlist! Let us know in the comments what animal sex
stories you want to see. If you want more stories right now, grab a
copy of the book Wild Sex, written by me, Dr. Carin Bondar. Thanks for watching and make sure to subscribe!

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