Some animals go to great lengths to attract a mate for reproduction. Step up, the dancing male bird of paradise! These birds inherit dance moves from their father, then practising and improving them throughout their lives. They even push their feathers up to form what looks like a skirt, before dancing for the females watching from above. Mating for the male praying mantis is a very risky business. Females lure the males by releasing pheromones, then some of them mate with the female, just before she bites their heads off! Females who eat more males, lay more eggs! Life is not much easier for male honey bees. They mate mid-flight, and die not long after, when their reproductive organ and abdominal tissue are ripped from their body.
Plants also have some very unusual ways of making sure pollination occurs. Bucket orchids produce aromatic oils which attract male bees. The bees will try and collect chemicals from the flower in order to impress females. The unfortunate bees then fall into the water-filled bucket of the flower. As they now have wet wings, and the slides are slippery, climbing back out is impossible. Luckily for them, there is an escape tunnel with bee-sized footholds . As the bees slowly climb out they are covered with pollen – which is then transported by them to another flower.
The giant Amazon water lily has leaves over 2.5 metres across, and flowers that are over 30cm wide. They live for only two days. Beetles are attracted to the female flower on the first evening of their life, as it blooms, and white petals smelling of pineapple are produced. The flowers also provide heat. As the beetles enter the flower, they transfer any pollen they are carrying onto the stigma. In the morning, the flower traps the beetles inside. The lily flower turns pink during the day and becomes male, covering the beetles inside with pollen. On the second evening, the flower opens once more, this time without scent or heat. The pollen-dusted beetles leave to search for another white flower, and the pollination continues
GCSE scientists – you need to be able to explain the difference between asexual and sexual reproduction and the different types of cell division. For help, try our new guide “How to work with Reproduction and Cell Division”. As always there are questions to try, and answers to check your understanding.
Click on the picture below to see the guide.
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