Check out these species’ dating profiles

We’re having a little fun for Valentine’s Day. Our friends at the National Museum of Natural History are helping species look for love in this series of “dating profiles.” Check out these four profiles from critters in our region (Thanks NMNH!). Will #NMNHcupid help them find their one and only?

seaotter

Screen Name iheartnoses
Species: Enhydra lutris
Location: Monterey Bay, CA
Sex:  male
Size: I’m about 4 feet tall and weigh 6 pounds—tall and slender.
Body Type/Diet: I’d like to think I’m pretty bear-like for an otter: Very furry. I like to bulk up by using tools to break open sea urchins, clams, mussels and other shelled creatures.
My self summary: I am super cuddly and love to hang out in groups among the giant kelp. I love to eat—I aim to get 25 percent of my body weight every day and manage to stay slim. Gotta love that fast metabolism!
The first thing people usually notice about me: My luscious fur
Favorite food: I really love purple sea urchins, which is good because the more of them I eat, the less kelp they cut down.
What I’m doing with my life: Proud member of the keystone species club! The whole kelp forest ecosystem depends on me. It’s a lot of responsibility, but I’m pretty good at my job—not to brag.
I think a lot about: My ancestors that were killed for their fur. I put a lot of care into my fur in their memory.
On a typical Friday, you’ll find me: Floating on my back, maybe eating an extra delicious urchin (treat yo’self), and then cleaning my fur up.
I’m looking for: Someone who can have fun—I sometimes like to bite my partner’s nose while we’re mating!
By Emily Frost, Smithsonian Ocean Portal, National Museum of Natural History

firefly

Screen name: LookingforLoveinAlltheWrongPlaces
Species: Photuris pensylvanica [sic]
Age: 9 months
Sex: Female
Location: I’m a permanent East Coaster
Body Type: Average (11-15mm in length), but I’m bigger than most of the guys I date. I’m mostly brown-black, but I do have a red eyespot tattoo between my “shoulder blades” and the yellow stripes on my elytra give me a long, lean look.
Diet: I’m a predator through and through. Since I was a young larva, I’ve been hunting and eating pretty much any soft bodied critter I can get my mandibles on including snails, slugs, mites, and other insects (including other fireflies…more on that later).
My self summary: Although I’m often called “cute”, I have a bit of a reputation as a real man–eater.
I’m really good at: Flashing and eating, in that order. I flash my photic organ like I’m a female of another species and then when the boys come running, I catch them and eat them!
The first thing people usually notice about me: Well, my rear end glows in the dark so what do you think?
Favorite food: male fireflies (and with Photinus males I get their chemical defenses this way!!!)
I think a lot about: How complicated bioluminescence is.  Especially using it to find a mate.  Not only do I need to think about what species I’m flashing (my own or another), but if I’m trying to attract a fella of my own species, I need to pay attention to the duration of his flash, the length of time between flashes, the flash color, and the height he’s flying to make sure he’s “the one”.
The most private thing I’m willing to share: The boys of my species have caught on to my ruse and so THEY pretend and flash like males of other species so they can get close to me. Sometimes they make it out alive, other times they don’t.
I’m looking for: A male that doesn’t fall for my tricks (or be prepared to pay the price if you do), but in the meantime I’m happy to have any other males over for dinner (anytime).
By Floyd Shockley, Department of Entomology, National Museum of Natural History 

pulpit

Screen Name: JackorJillParsons. My real name, Arisaema triphyllum, is a tongue-twister for most people and my local nickname, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, is merely an observation about my physical stature.
Hometown: 
I’m a native of eastern North America and have direct relatives in every state from Maine to Texas.
Height: 
A petite 2 ft. at best.
Body type: I’m a graceful, herbaceous, perennial with 1 or 2 large leaves, each divided into three leaflets.  
My self summary:
It’s probably no surprise that I’m fairly introverted and spend a lot of time in the garden or quiet, wooded areas. Spring is my favorite season to be outdoors, but I’m most cheerful in the fall when I like to flaunt my bright red berries. 
I’m really good at:
Tricking others into thinking I’m another plant that they are more familiar with; either poison-ivy or trilliums because we’re frequently neighbors in the forest and have the same trifoliate leaves.  
The first thing people usually notice about me:
When I flower in April or May I have a striking greenish-purple hood that surrounds my inflorescence of numerous small flowers, protecting it and trapping insect pollinators.  This combination of modified leaf structure and flower stalk is what gives me the nickname “Jack-in-the-Pulpit” as it looks like a preacher standing in a pulpit.
3 things I could never do without: I love the dappled shade of mature woods, need a reliable water source, and worry that a plow or bulldozer will spoil my forest home.
On a typical Friday, you’ll find me: Napping! Like a contented cat, I’m an exceptional napper and by mid-summer I often retreat into my corm (something like a potato tuber), saving my energy until I produce another cluster of subtle whitish-green flowers in the spring.
The most private thing I’m willing to share: Depending on environmental conditions I have the ability to change the sex of my flowers in any given year.  Because it takes a lot of energy to produce berries I produce only male flowers & 1 leaf in a year when the reservoir of nutrients in my corm is low.  About every 3 years I have built up an excess of energy in my corm and produce female flowers that will mature into berries by the fall along with 2 leaves.
I’m looking for: An unsuspecting woodland bird or small mammal to transport my seeds to a new location in exchange for some tasty fruit.
By Nancy Khan, Department of Botany, National Museum of Natural History

waterbug

Screen Name: BellaNeedsAFella
Species:
Belostoma flumineum, commonly known as a giant water bug
Age: 8 months
Sex: Female
Location: North America
Body Type: large (for an insect!-about 2-2.5 cm long), oval, dorsoventrally flattened
About me: I am a very good flier, but I can usually be found in still or slow moving fresh water, such as a lake, marsh or pond.
The most private thing I’m willing to share: When under water, I use respiratory tubes, called airstraps, to breathe.
Favorite Food:  I only eat what I can catch.  Using my raptorial legs, I will ambush my prey.  While I will eat most small invertebrates or vertebrates, my favorite meals are dragonfly nymphs and snails.
Looking for: Male that will be willing to carry approximately 100 eggs on his backuntil they hatch.  Familiarity with basic childrearing techniques a plus.  This may include air brooding, where the male keeps the eggs at the water surface, or brood pumping, where the male uses his hind legs to increase water flow over the eggs to ensure they receive enough oxygen.   Must also provide eggs with protection from predators, especially the water bug Notonecta undulata.
By Jessica Bird, Department of Entomology, National Museum of Natural History

Soo… We wish these critters luck but think it’s probably pretty safe to say that these four ARE NOT matches. Check out the rest of the dating profiles at the NMNH website!

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