Monday, 5 December 2011

Duck mating is an arms race

A duck pond may seem like the ideal place to spend a peaceful spring afternoon, but during mating season it can look like the scene of a gang attack. Though ducks as a species are famously monogamous, unattached drakes can be extremely aggressive. They attack any female in sight in a mating frenzy that often ends in the injury or death of the victim. This has resulted in the ducks developing ways to prevent unwanted matings and the drakes ways to overcome their defenses. Researchers in North America are developing a novel way to study this "evolutionary arms race" that uses high-speed cameras, force transducers and model duck oviducts made of glass... Continue Reading Duck mating is an arms race


Sergej said...

TMI. Way TMI. But I have a sudden urge to go to the local Chinese restaurant for some reason.

eon said...

I'd need brain bleach after that, except that as a kid, I helped my parents raise Muscovy ducks on our farm, in addition to chickens.

If ducks are Conanesque barbarians, Muscovies are the species' freaking Terminators. They are big, strong, smelly, and about as good-tempered as as an elephant in musth- even when it's not "that time of year". (Chickens aren't exactly cute either, but that, as Conan's chronicler said, is another story.)

I've seen a full-grown German Shepherd run for it after being "flopped" by a Muscovy drake, and then he chased the dog and got nasty. You can just about imagine their reaction to an undersized six-year-old kid, even though I was the one who fed them.

Put it this way; to me, roast duck carries the same feeling of balance as shark steak served under the name "Skindiver's Revenge". No PETA member can ever make me feel guilty about eating duck, or chicken. I know both birds entirely too well.