Courtesy prattWatch for this one, everybody, among your local news affiliate’s “feel good” segments; I’m guessing it’ll fall somewhere between “Man tries to rob bank with a banana,” and “llama adopts kitten.”
What we have here, I’d say, is a modern day Romeo and Juliet story. Two young lovers from different families (different classes actually), brought together by fate, kept apart by…um… phenotype. I don’t suppose their parents were very happy either.
Playful confusion or sexual frustration lead a young male fur seal to cruise the beaches of the sub-Antarctic Marion island looking for companionship, and he found it in the form of an adult king penguin of indeterminate sex. Love, as we all know, waits for no man, pinniped, or bird, and so the 200 pound seal went to it there and then, subduing the 30 pound penguin by simply flopping down on top of it,
Unfortunately, the 45-minute exercise in sexual futility was caught on film by a team of South African biologists.
“At first glimpse, we thought the seal was killing the penguin,” says Nico de Bruyn, of the University of Pretoria, “but then we realized that the seal’s intentions were rather more amorous.” Before long, “the brazenness of the seal’s behavior left those who saw it in no doubt as to what was happening.”
I know what you’re all thinking: it meant nothing. Adelie penguins, after all, prostitute themselves for nest stones, chinstrap penguins occasionally swing both ways, and emperor penguins often change partners from one year to the next. King penguins, like Ms. (or Mr.) Juliet here, lead pretty vanilla sex lives, however. No, this wasn’t youthful experimentation; this was love. Biologists who viewed the event think that action may have resulted from some crossed instinctual wires, but, then again, they’re scientists, not famous for their romantic sensibilities.
The BBC reports that this is thought to be the first recorded example of a mammal trying to have sex with a member of another class of vertebrate, such as a bird fish, reptile, or amphibian. I find that hard to believe.