We’ll start with the New Mexico state animal: the New Mexican whiptail. She’s a lizard with a mission, a girl on the go, and she need no male to ensure the continuation of her species. She’s a member of a girl’s only club, with other chapters found in several other whiptail species. Only female whiptails exists. There are no males.
Go ahead, ask me. “But Dr. Rae, how do they...you know....do it? How do they make little tiny whiptails to carry on the hopes and dreams of the whiptail future?”
Parthenogenesis is how. The females eggs require no fertilization. They hatch as exact duplicates of the mother -- which means only female offspring are produced. This does raise the problem of genetic variation, but that’s not what this article is about. I can go into that later, of anyone really really wants me to.
Too bad our whiptail femme needs hormones to get this parthenogenesis going. For all her feminine mystique, the juices still need to be induced to flow to begin the reproduction process. One way our girl accomplishes this is to emulate courting rituals and sex with another female. Hot lizard on lizard action. If she feels like a nut, instead she'll dupe a male of another species of lizard to wine and dine her. They copulate, and her body gets the point, inspiring the eggs begin to develop within her. Too bad for our man, though, as his life’s mission is foiled. The genetic information he tries so hard to pass on to the next generation is discarded into the dust.
This leads us to an exciting behavioral theory concerning the lizard: The New Mexican whiptail must be Protestant.
Let us move onto plants.
The cultivated banana. One of natures most phallic fruits, cover-fruit of The Penis Book, and subject of much debate at “tupperware parties” of whether or not its shape allows it to hit the elusive g-spot, cannot reproduce sexually. You heard me. The banana can’t have sex. It has been bred out of the plant. The seeds have been bred in order to not mature inside the fruit, because if they did, eating a banana would crack your teeth. New banana plants are grown from cutting of the old. No wonder they all taste the same.
Never say Nature doesn’t have a sense of irony.
We shall dive into the ocean to find our next sexual anomaly, the parrot fish. Many of you have probably heard of this guy. His body is a glorious palette of shimmering pastel, his beak can scrape the bejesus out of the hardest coral. He is a paragon of manhood, protecting his harem of drab-colored female parrot fish, creating white sandy beaches with his shit (yes, parrot fish eat coral and shit sand, and are responsible for much of the sand in reefs...they create over a ton per year per fish), sleeping in a protective coating of his own mucus. However, this male has a secret. He used to be a She. Female parrot fish change into males if the harem is in need of one in order to reproduce. How’s that for gender bending? She doesn't even have to spend money for a plane ticket to Thailand.
(If you’re interested in reading about phenomena like this found in the animal kingdom, pick up the book Evolution’s Rainbow by Joan Roughgarden. You won’t look at human sexuality the same way again.)
That concludes this week’s lesson. I hope you’ve enjoyed it. And remember, love your bananas, just don’t LOVE your bananas.