And the dominant male will usually only mate with the dominant female, because the other sexually mature females in his group are his offspring. What's more, the size and shape of a barnacle's penis isn't set for life. But in their native home range in southern Africa, mating often coincides with periods of high rainfall, Clutton-Brock said, adding that "the rainfall is unpredictable but it's lowest between April and July. Pseudo-copulation may be the norm for barnacles, but it's not the only way they reproduce. But wave-exposed, intertidal locales favor shorter, stouter penises, which are more easily controlled under turbulent conditions. Older sisters responded by eating more on their own to grow bigger, helping them keep their place in the queue for the crown and the right to breed.
Research also suggests some species don't need to be submerged in water to mate. Barnacles have one of the longest penises relative to body size in the animal kingdom — in extreme cases, the penis can be up to 8 times the barnacle's body size, Darwin noted in his monographs. The anatomy of barnacle sex Mating is possible due to the crustacean's incredibly long penis. When that happens, the remaining females will fight for the ruling seat, with the biggest female often coming out ahead. Multiple modes of reproduction Scientists don't know exactly how barnacles know what sex role their neighbors are assuming, though barnacle penises do have chemosensory bristles that may help to zero-in on functional females. The exact timing of the mating season differs between species, but it generally runs from spring to early fall for intertidal barnacles, said zoologist and barnacle expert Richard Palmer, of the University of Alberta in Canada. Subordinate females may occasionally mate with the immigrant males from within the group or outside of the group. Like many other animals, barnacles only reproduce during the mating season. Numerous immobile invertebrates, including clams and sea anemones, reproduce via broadcast spawning, in which the animals release sperm and eggs into the water for external fertilization. And the dominant male will usually only mate with the dominant female, because the other sexually mature females in his group are his offspring. But in their native home range in southern Africa, mating often coincides with periods of high rainfall, Clutton-Brock said, adding that "the rainfall is unpredictable but it's lowest between April and July. What's more, the size and shape of a barnacle's penis isn't set for life. But unlike their crawly cousins, adult barnacles permanently attach to surfaces, raising an interesting question: These groups are ruled by a dominant male and female, called the alpha pair, that have exclusive breeding rights. Meerkats reach sexual maturity at 1 year old, and males willingly leave their group permanently at around 2 years old to attempt to join or take over another group. Pseudo-copulation may be the norm for barnacles, but it's not the only way they reproduce. Dominant females don't have much choice in their mate, given that the dominant male will do all he can to prevent her from mating with immigrant males in the group. But as Charles Darwin noted in monographs published in the s, most barnacles actually reproduce via copulation, or more precisely, pseudo-copulation. In a soon-to-be published study in the journal Marine Biology, Palmer and his colleagues found that the northeast Pacific gooseneck barnacle Pollicipes polymerus could extend its penis in air and mate in between periods of softly breaking waves. How do these sessile creatures mate? But within their small groups, these creatures are anything but meek — including when it comes to their mating behaviors. Original article on Live Science. But wave-exposed, intertidal locales favor shorter, stouter penises, which are more easily controlled under turbulent conditions. A few years ago, Palmer and his colleagues found Pollicipes polymerus barnacles that were too far away from other adults to copulate, yet somehow carried fertilized eggs. In some cases, the dominant male may fight with the dominant female and grip her by her nape until she subdues and allows him to mount her from behind. Adult subordinate females, on the other hand, are often forcefully and sometimes violently evicted by the dominant female — they'll sometimes remain on the group's territory, sleeping and foraging alone or with other evicted females until the dominant female's aggression towards them subsides. Interestingly, recent research shows that subordinate meerkat sisters in a group actively compete with each other through eating.
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