The XX Factor

A Good Man Is Easy to Find if You Keep Him in Your Intestine

Ever had the feeling that your male is getting restless? Think he’s not ready to settle down with you and have 10,000 larvae and a white-picket mud burrow? If you’ve got a hard time finding a man, a dwarf male might be right for you. Dwarf males have evolved to be tiny semi-parasites, forgoing feeding and swimming for a life of providing you with sperm-on-demand. Since dwarfism makes a good man easy to find (there he is, stuck to your shell or living in your gut!), it’s perfect for gals on the go. Here are three easy ways to keep your dwarf male with you for ever and ever:

Attach him to your hip. The deep sea anglerfish (as seen in that hallmark of marine biology, Finding Nemo ) keeps six or seven males by her side - literally. Anglerfish spend their lives in the pitch-black water, luring prey to their doom with a little light dangling off their foreheads. When a male encounters a female , he bites into her side with his giant scraggly teeth and hangs on for the rest of his life. Eventually, his organs degenerate and his blood supply fuses with that of the female, leaving him to function as simply a scrotum . Sure, a scrotum might not be so good for conversation or long walks on the beach, but he’s not going anywhere .

Choose a live-inside boyfriend. In the whale-bone eating worm Osedax , dwarf males inhabit the female’s intestine . In this case, sex is determined by the environment - if a larva lands on a nice fresh whale skeleton, it turns into a female. But if a larva gets ingested by a female, it turns into a male and spends its life inside her gut with up to 100 harem-mates. As long as you don’t get indigestion, he’ll never leave you.

Make him give up a big something. If he won’t permanently attach, there are still ways to make it hard for him to go anywhere. Amongst the free-living triangle spiders , the male body size has shrunk, but the female anatomy remains the same. In order to please their ladies, male triangle spiders have to drag around enormous, disproportionate male organs called “palps.” Upon reaching adulthood, a male breaks off one of his two palps in order to be able to walk. The remaining palp is for you - and if you aren’t pleased you can always tear it off and eat him .