69
      Monday
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      Wednesday
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      Earth Gauge: Strange Love is in the Air

      Wooing, romantic dinners, flowers and chocolates?|Valentine??s Day is just around the corner. Out in the wild, animals do it a little differently. They may not celebrate Valentine??s Day, but they will still go to extreme measures to impress a mate just as humans do. When it comes to gift giving, dressing up and showing off dance moves, courtship takes on a whole new meaning in the animal kingdom.Viewer Tip: From sprucing up bachelor pads to using built-in fishing rods and nasal balloons, check out some of these strange mating rituals:Prairie Chicken: In March, prairie chickens, found in the mid-western United States, begin their fighting, singing and dancing mating ritual. Male prairie chickens give out a ??booming?? call by breathing air into orange air sacs along their neck. During the ??boom?? calls, they shuffle and tap their feet on the ground performing a dance. The most impressive male gets the female. Check out the prairie chicken in action.Curcurbit Beetle: This insect, along with a few others, changes mating habits based on air pressure. In nature, the female beetles stay put and give off a pheromone that attracts males. When air pressure is dropping, male beetles are less likely to search for females based on their pheromones. The male beetles may respond to changes in the weather to prevent injury or death when lower air pressure indicates a storm is approaching.Bowerbird: Male bowerbirds ?? found in the tropical regions of Australia and New Guinea ?? attract females with blue trinkets. They gather blue objects, such as plastic rings, berries and flowers, as well as bottle caps and string, and place them in their bowers. Bowers are U-shaped platforms built from twigs and grass. Check out a bowerbird gathering up blue objects.Anglerfish: Over years of evolution, female anglerfish grew much larger than males. Females have a unique built-in fishing rod that protrudes off the top of the front of their heads. Because they are smaller, male anglerfish have a harder time getting food. So, males attach themselves to the rod for easy access to food and in a sense become parasites. Eventually, the males cannot detach themselves, so they stay along for the ride until the female is ready to mate. Talk about attraction?|or should we say attachment?Hooded Seal: Hooded seals, which are distributed mostly in the northern parts of the Atlantic Ocean, determine mates based off of nasal balloons. Male hooded seals blow up their nasal balloons like bubble gum and then show them off to scare away other males and attract females. Check out the performance.Photo of prairie chicken courtesy of U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.(Sources: Mother Nature Network, ??9 of the most bizarre animal mating habits,?? http://www.mnn.com/earth-matters/animals/photos/9-of-the-most-bizarre-animal-mating-habits/water-striders; National Geographic, ??Wild Romance: Weird Animal Courtship and Mating Rituals,?? http://newswatch.nationalgeographic.com/2013/02/14/wild-romance-weird-animal-courtship-and-mating-rituals/; National Geographic, ??Bowerbirds Dance, Decorate to Suit Females?? Changing Tastes,?? http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2004/04/0414_040414_bowerbirdsmating.html; Arkive, ??Hooded Seal,?? http://www.arkive.org/hooded-seal/cystophora-cristata/; National Geographic, ??Ground Birds: World??s Weirdest: Bowerbird Woos Female With Ring,?? http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/animals/birds-animals/ground-birds/weirdest-bowerbird/; Missouri Department of Conservation, ??Prairie Chicken [video],?? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s2_wdMmEupQ; Arkive, ??Greater prairie chicken,?? http://www.arkive.org/greater-prairie-chicken/tympanuchus-cupido/; The Weather Channel, ??Insects Sense Weather, Adjust Mating Behavior, Study Says,?? http://www.weather.com/news/science/insects-sense-weather-adjust-mating-behavior-study-says-20131017)