Christmas Bells

Christmas Bells
Christmas Bells - Blandfordia nobilis

Friday, February 23, 2007

Romantic Leopard Slug Aerial Ballet

Here are two Leopard Slugs engaged in the most spectacular mating ritual.

I was requested by Anni to point out that this was occurring on the post of her step hand-rail post. Ah, the need for fame is desperate, isn't it? But I am happy to oblige you Anni.

But, fancy requesting an "owner's credit" for the furniture on which this event was occurring? Think of the mess which Anni was going to have to clean up tomorrow morning!

They are "simultaneous hermaphroditic" creatures, and they each protrude a male organ from close to the back of their head. These two organs then twist around eachother to form a bulbous, flower-like structure, in which they seemingly transfer sperm from one Leopard Slug to the other. Eventually they decide that enough is enough. These particular slugs climbed back up the thread of mucous on which they had been hanging, and each curled up in a "post-coital" mood. Anni assured me that this represented the "male" side of their character (seeing as they are hermaphroditic, she had a point).

As with most things which are visually spectacular in the animal world, David Attenborough's team have captured this ritual on film, and it is available to play from the BBC website.

Click "Play video" on the image "mating Leopard Slugs". The video is quick to download, and to play. I have "real player" - maybe that makes a difference - I don't know. Have a go.

The incident recorded is of a free-hanging pair of Leopard Slugs, the Attenborough team have some of the best equipment available.

There is an audio commentary which explains the process. It is truly intriguing to watch.

The bulb is now swollen with the transferred sperm.

BJ demonstrating the scale of the slugs and their "mating bulb", with her finger.

"So long, it's been good to know you!"

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