How do aliens have sex?
It all depends on their biology — and your imagination.
Since we science-fiction writers are the makers and breakers of specualtive biology, we ought to get really creative with the way our non-human characters do the rumpy-pumpy.
If we invest so much brain juice in coming up with fantastic worlds and alien technologies, why not put that same sweet juice to use in coming up with creative, weird, and even downright creepy ways for our aliens to have sex? Why assume aliens have two genders just like us, with gender roles and mating rituals just like ours, and even—the muses forbid!—the ability to mate with us? That’s just lazy worldbuilding.
If our aliens are to be truly alien and convincingly different, the way they have sex and procreate has to be really imaginative.
Where do we get the best inspiration for that?
Why, the animal kingdom, of course. Not that humans don’t regularly come up with mindboggling things to do between the sheets (or in public…), but when it comes to outlandish and almost unearthly, animals & critters are way ahead of us.
Take a look at how these creatures do it:
Honey bee male drones that were lucky enough to be chosen by the queen for a tumble, have their genitals explode inside her after mating, to prevent other males from fertilizing her.
Red-sided garter snakes—who mate by the female releasing such a potent pheromone that hundreds of male come to deck her at the same time, instigating a huge orgy called “mating ball”—have she-males who release the same pheromone to… get attention and protection by hundreds of horny, two-membered (snakes have two penises, called ‘hemipenes’) males rubbing up against them.
What’s also interesting is that in most species of snakes, the females can store sperm for up to 5 years, from several males, and choose which sperm to fertilize themselves with.
Male giraffes induce the females to urinate (by poking them in the rump!) and then drink the urine to find out if the females are in estrus.
Male dolphins have prehensile, retractible penises they can extend, flex, and even use to explore objects (and other sea creatures, when they don’t have a female dolphin nearby to release their ravenous sexual appetite). Dolphins are so sexually active, they will masturbate with anything they can get (including beheaded fish—link to video), or penetrate each other’s blowholes.
Male bedbugs impale the females anywhere they can (since the females don’t have genitals) and inject their sperm into their bodies.
Red velvet mites create “love gardens” for their females, smearing their sperm all around their grassland arhitecture, then luring the female in to sit down and chillax… and get fertilized.
Whiptail lizards have no males! That’s right—all whiptail lizards on this Earth are females. How do they mate? They clone themselves. Two sexy, horny females meet, perform pseudocopulation and thus stimulate ovulation in both, and when the eggs hatch, all babies are clones of their mothers.
Banana slugs have penises that are as large as they are (6-8 inches). They are hermaphrodites, so when they mate, they inseminate each other. But they have to choose their partners carefully, because if one slug is too small, the other slug’s penis will get stuck inside him (or her), and the smaller slug will chew the larger slug’s penis off when it’s done, thus killing him (or her).
And if that wasn’t bizzare enough, keep reading.
The anglerfish males are tiny compared to the females, and look vastly different. They also have a very different fate. They are born without a digestive tract, so they have to find a female very quickly or die a senseless death. If they do find a female, they attach themselves to her (wherever they can) and fuse to her, effectively melting into her body and becoming a part of her.
The female will release an enzyme that helps her digest the male, leaving nothing more than what looks like a “growth” with a sperm sack inside, that keeps producing sperm as it now shares the same blood supply with the female. When she’s ready to mate, she will extract the sperm and get going.
Argentine Lake drakes (apart from having cork-screw shaped penises like all duck species), also have extremely long penises they can lasso a female with. In fact, their penis is as long as they are, and thus the longest of all birds. They also use the tip of their penis to scrape out sperm left by other males.
The male antechinus mouse, a tiny rodent who lives in Australia, has a two-to-three week long mating season during which he has so much sex, with so many females, for so long (up to 14 hours per mating!) that he literally disintegrates. “He exhausts himself so thoroughly that his body starts to fall apart. His blood courses with testosterone and stress hormones. His fur falls off. He bleeds internally. His immune system fails to fight off incoming infections, and he becomes riddled with gangrene.”
Octopuses (or octopi, for the more pedantic) are cannibalistic, antisocial and profoundly antagonistic toward each other. They see each other as competition or prey, even when it comes to mating. When a male wants to mate with a female, he must deposite the sperm inside her with his mating arm (called hectocotylus), but the chance that the female will strangle him and eat him is so big, he often has to resort to clever tricks (or sacrifices) to mate at all.
While cannibalism during (or after) mating is not so strange in insects, strangulation among mollusks is, as are the male’s strategies of approaching the female disguised as another female, sneakily penetrating her ‘at an arm’s length’ without even getting within her strangling reach, or ripping his own mating arm off after inserting enough spermatophores (or even before, and sending it on its way to her!), and making a quick escape.
Quolls have probably the most violent mating ritual of all mammals. The females will all go into heat at the same time during winter, bringing about a massive mating frenzy. The males will try to mate with as many females as possible, for as often as possible (since they only ejaculate very few sperms each time), which makes them quite greedy and aggressive. So aggressive, in fact, that they often grab females with their teeth and claws and drag them into their dens to mate with them. It’s not uncommon for females to get killed in the process, and then get eaten by their sex-rabid partner. But that bad karma has most males so exhausted and depleted, they die a couple of weeks after mating season.
The Dana Octopus Squid uses its beak and claws to cut the female in several places. Then he injects sperm into the wounds, which burrows its way through the female’s body using an enzyme.
Water strider males will rub their legs on the surface of the water during mating, to attract predatory fish. Why? To get the female to hurry and accept their sperm quickly and generously, before they get eaten.
Porcupine males will drench the females in urine, at high velocities and from a distance. If the females like the golden shower, they roll over, exposing their soft bellies, and allow the males to mount them.
White-fronted parrots tongue-kiss each other, and the more they get into it, the more aroused the males become until they eventually vomit in their lovers’ mouths. The females welcome the treat, considering it an act of utmost intimacy which gets them in the mood.
Dunnoks (more commonly known as hedge sparrows) are mostly monogamous, but females will often keep a secondary male around who they call upon when the main male is out on business. The secondary male, who’s waiting in the bushes hoping for just this moment, will drop in and quickly mate with the female, then make himself scarce again. When the main male returns, the female exposes her genitals to him, and he pokes around them until all the sperm of the secondary male flows out. Then he mates with her.
You will rightfully wonder why the hell they do this. The answer is quite simple: this way, the female has two men caring for and feeding her chicks when they hatch, but makes sure the stronger one’s genes are used for the actual procreation.
And the list could go on…
But frankly, there’s enough material here to come up with truly alien sex rituals and mating mechanics to wow the readership for a long time to come. I will most definitely use one (or more) of these in future novels.
How about you?
Have you developed or encountered some strange alien sex in stories? Tell me about it!