Apr 7, 2009

Of Nasal Membranes and Courtship

I understand that as a male seal you only have so many means at your disposal for attracting lady friends, for building up a nice respectable harem. You can't sport a bright colored coat, not with killer whales and polar bears lurking about. You can't do a graceful dance, not with that bullet-shaped, fin-propelled body. But you can get big and belligerent and loud--that always seems to work. You can even grow an elephantine nose and flaunt it with pride.

Or, you can go the route of the hooded seal (Cystophora cristata), like the male seen below on the frozen banks of the St. Lawrence River, and inflate your nasal membranes (the hood is actually a smaller inflatable sac on the forehead, which can just barely be be seen in this photo). I guess that as a female, an impressive inflated nasal membrane is as good a mating determining factor as anything else. The lady seal watching the display seems satisfactorily impressed.

Courting my wife took quite a bit more convincing than was required of this seal, but I can't complain. In place a nasal membrane and an appetite for fish, I've got my trusty frontal lobes, opposable thumbs, and mediocre blogging skills.

Photo source: Pete Cooper via Wildlife North America


The Gravekeeper said...

I think my boyfriend may have tried something like this once...but with a balloon and his nostril.

Raging Wombat said...

You've got a good man, gravekeeper.