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Female trout can fake orgasms, care about size

Thursday - 11/3/2011, 2:40pm  ET

Greg Otto, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - Turns out humans aren't the only ones known to fake orgasms.

Sweden's National Board of Fisheries discovered in the past decade that female brown trout are known to deceive males during mating.

The con begins by both male and female brown trout shaking during a mating session. While shaking, eggs and sperm release simultaneously.

"What essentially happens is the female does what appears to be an orgasmic behavior in front of the male, and the male isn't quite aware of whether she's released eggs or not," says Matt Walker, editor of BBC Nature and author of Fish That Fake Orgasms: And Other Zoological Curiosities.

According to researchers, the females can shake without actually releasing any eggs, which causes the males to prematurely ejaculate.

Researchers also found that after the female faked an orgasm, she would go on to find a "better quality" mate for her next go-around.

"She's looking at the size of the male, so it tends to be bigger fish with bigger fins," Walker says.

So, when it comes to sex in the fish world, it may not be about "the motion of the ocean?"

"Essentially, what fish are doing is they are kind of using those signs or signals as a proxy for their genetic quality," Walker says. "The more impressive fish, the likely better quality sperm and genes he will have."

While Walker says he has not seen any other examples of female wildlife faking orgasms (partly due to lack of research), there are many instances that buck the trend of the classic idea that a male stalks a female in order to mate.

"There is a whole idea in biology, we call it 'female choice,'" Walker says. "There's a general presumption that males tend to do a lot of the choosing in the animal kingdom. It seems more and more and more that the opposite is also true, that females have just as much power to choose males, and in that respect, that's what happening with these trouts."

Regardless of species, Walker says the trouts' actions are just one example of how males and females approach sex.

"Across many, many species, there's a game that goes on beyond males and females, and they often try to dupe each other," he says.

In this case, score one for the women's side.

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(Copyright 2011 by WTOP. All rights reserved.)