Apparently, frogs are well-known for trying to mate with all kinds of inappropriate partners, from turtles to fish to inanimate objects. Some of the freakier ones even get into necrophilia. Frogs have been doing this for hundreds of millions of years and never seem to learn. Why?
According to New Scientist, mating in most species "involves a process called amplexus, in which males grip onto a female tightly for hours or days at a time until the eggs are fertilised. But there are plenty of records of male frogs grappling an unpromising target such as a frog from a different species or a dead individual. One explanation is that such mistakes are more likely to happen in species that breed in large numbers with a low ratio of females to males, and where multiple species occupy the same breeding pond.
More from IFLScience:
"[They use] a 'clasp first, ask questions later' strategy to ensure they find a mate," explained [Universidade de São Paulo herpetologist Filipe] Serrano. "This leads to individuals amplexing the first thing they see that may remotely resemble a female because the cost of not doing so, and potentially missing a female due to 'choosiness', is likely missing the opportunity to breed and generate offspring."
Arguably, there's choosiness and then there's mating with a shoe, but it's possible climate could influence the behavior. In more stable environmental conditions, more species could have year-round opportunities to mate rather than being restricted to an explosive breeding window.
The paper represents the first step in understanding trends surrounding misdirected amplexus in anuran species, and the authors are already starting on the next in investigating whether humans' influence (such as habitat degradation, the introduction of invasive species, or even climate change) is increasing the number of events.
(via Weird Universe)