Monday, February 14, 2011

The blogger isn't the only one who's prickly today

Yet again, it's hard to know who's worse, humans or animals.

I recently stumbled across a press release touting the results of an online poll of Australians who have nothing better to do than respond to an online poll about what is the cutest baby Australian animal.

The winner was the baby echidna, and this result impressed me with the broad-mindedness of Australians, given that the picture above is a good example of the creature in question. Not exactly your conventional example of cuteness and beauty.

However, the plot thickened when I tracked down the blog that conducted this survey and discovered that this was the photo posted with the entry announcing the results:

I can only hope that by the time you follow that link they've responded to my comment and changed the photo, since, with the enormous insight into the natural world that we have come to expect from lovers of cute animals, what they are using there is a actually a picture of a hedgehog.

So who knows what the poll-takers thought they were actually voting on. But, while I'm on the subject, we don't want to let the echidnas themselves off the hook, as they have quite a bit to answer for as well. Their sex lives are particularly appalling. Researchers have found that they commonly have group sex, with up to four males attempting to mate with one female at a time. At least that's presumably consensual, though: worse, males are also happy to mate with a female while she is still hibernating.

Perhaps this isn't surprising since even the basic reproductive anatomy of this animal is an offense to any right-thinking person. This is a mammal that lays eggs, after all, so it fails to follow even the most basic rules of its class. The following video is a good introduction to the "horrifying and disgusting reproductive practices" of the echidna, if you think you can take it. Three words of warning: four-headed penis.

Picture of actual baby echidna from For the curious I recommend these Flickr results.

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