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Re: Dinosaurs Eating Mammals! Oh No!
<<As for the venom... what use would this kind of spur be without it? What
do echidnas use their venomless spurs for?>>
I don't know what they do with them, but they're also restricted to adult
males. The authors term these spurs 'secondarily non-poisonous', and they
may well be right about that.
I've never read a field study on /Zaglossus/, which apparently wanders
around high level forests in low densities at night in remote parts of New
Guinea; habits which make field studies extremely tricky. /Tachyglossus/ is
a bit more cooperative. Studies of natural behaviour are merely very
tricky. There's a short one on line somewhere:
They've kindly added another on 'orientation', which I haven't read.
A fully study is:
Rismiller PD & McKelvey MW (2000), Frequency of breeding and recruitment in
the short-beaked echidna, Tachyglossus aculeatus, Journal of Mammalogy,
I don't know whether that's on-line, but I've got a pdf.
Anyway, I don't recall any info on what male tachys do with their spurs, so
it might be unknown. They do engage in much barging around during the
mating season. It's fascinating and weird stuff. An attractive female can
be followed around for some weeks by a gang of a few to half-a-dozen or so
wannabe fathers. Things start off in a civilised enough way, with
occassional attempts to causually establish contact with the beauty.
Eventually, things start hotting up and pushing and shoving become the order
of the day, as the males try to get as close to her as possible.
When the female decides it's time for rampant sex, she'll perhaps grab a
convenient hedge or something, and hold on. The idea is that a male digs a
hole to get to a convenient position, and they then make whoopee. A quickey
lasts a mere half-hour, but macho tachys can carry on for three hours, aided
by their four-headed penis. However, if there happen to be half-a-dozen
wannabe fathers all digging, it can get chaotic. Trenches can end up
surrounding the eagerly waiting female. The males go in for much barging
and shoving, as they attempt to evict each other from the trench. It isn't
always the largest that wrongs, so brute strength isn't the entire story.
I've no idea what male tachys do with the tarsal spurs, but I'd be surprised
if they weren't employed in the trench warfare.
I've got a 2,000 worder, should anybody be looking for mammalian erotica.
The entry for /Tachyglossus aculeatus/ includes:
A tachy tale of sex
It's hard-core porno largely based on the Rissmiller and McKelvey study