The Flying Fox Archetype

Part two of my exploration into animal archetypes.

The Belief
“Who needs great love when you have great lovers”

The Biology
The flying fox is a large species of fruit bat with a head that resembles a fox. They are believed to be descended from primates and of Australian animals, are the species most closely related to humans. Their loves lives centre around a local dominant male whose role in the community is to breed with every female (over the age of two). Sometimes females will also seek out the services of additional lovers as they are not the shy, submissive types and if “in the mood” will not simply wait around for the dominant male to be free.

Sexual selection (ie female insistence) has favoured in this species males who are extremely good lovers. They are particularly adept at felacia and during the mating season become true sex machines, maintaining a full or partial erection round the clock and forsaking sleep in favour of sex. Males also have genitalia of porn star proportions but because they rely on being light-weight to fly, do not have the option of carrying around both large genitalia and large brains (unlike humans- although this is yet to be determined). As a result, male Flying Foxes do not have much for grey matter. Females are likely the thinkers in Flying Fox society and are also exceptionally good mothers. They depend on the support of the community’s large female population for help in raising offspring.

The Flying Fox Man
Few archetypes have the sex drive of the male Flying Fox. He is bold, he is persistent, and he knows what he is doing. The Flying Fox man understands the art of lovemaking and will go out of his way to make sure you never walk away unsatisfied. He will happily lavish hours of attention on you, forsaking sleep if necessary, to bring you to a point of such ecstasy you pass out in sheer delight. Indeed, his tongue is as adept as his manhood which is unsurprising considering it gets a daily workout sucking the nectar out of flowers and indulging in fleshy, summer fruits.

You must be warned, however, that the flying fox man sees it his duty in life to share his gifts with the world – or at least, with the other females in his range. If you have been entertaining visions of white dresses and babies, you might be wise to look elsewhere. It is possible that he may succumb to social pressure and attempt to become a faithful partner but at the end of the day, this is simply not his true nature. The Flying Fox man is also, as much as we love him, not the brightest crayon in the box. He converses well in bedroom banter but should the topic move to politics or psychology he will likely go mute. Let’s face it, though, girls – with a man like this there isn’t much need for conversation!

Interesting Sidenote – In humans, just as in Flying Foxes, there is a correlation between intelligence and promiscuity. Dr Satoshi Kanazawa, an evolutionary psychologist from the London School of Economics and Political Science, has discovered that the higher a man’s IQ, the less likely he is to cheat on his partner.

The Flying Fox Woman
The female Flying Fox is not merely interested in a male who can bring her children (as is common in the animal kingdom). This lady requires a confident lover who is well practiced in the art of love making. She has no patience for a man who doesn’t know what he is doing nor does she have the time for a needy man. She also has difficulty stomaching “romance” and post coitus, expects her lovers to go back to wherever it is they came from. Do not, however, think that this woman is cold hearted. If she has children she holds then at the forefront of her life but instead of relying on a man for support in raising them, looks instead to the her vast community of female friends and family. In many ways she has it all – great sex, an active social life, and more than likely a highly successful career.

It should be noted, though, that the Female Flying Fox is actually a very rare archetype. Many women believe themselves to be Flying Foxes when in actuality they desire a loyal and loving mate but have put walls around this desire after having been burned in a past relationship. They fear what pain may arise should they allow themselves to be vulnerable and so they take on Flying Fox form as a way to feel in control. For these women, taking on this archetype might bring temporary excitement but will be ultimately unfulfilling. Any woman who believes herself to be a Flying Fox should consider researching other archetypes to see if, in fact, her true nature lies elsewhere.

The Flying Fox / Flying Fox Couple
It is rare that two flying foxes will ever pair up as these both male and female of this archetype are extremely self-sufficient, preferring to come together only at times of breeding. On the rare event that two flying foxes do settle down together, they will likely label themselves as being in an “open relationship” and will both enjoy the company of other lovers in addition to each other. This couple will also likely separate for large periods of time to partake in their own individual interests and to enjoy the company of their friends. When reunited, however, they have the best sex life in town!

The Flying Fox / Other Archetype Couple
If you are not a flying fox but are dating a flying fox, you must be a very tolerant person, indeed! Flying foxes are best enjoyed while on vacation or in situations where you only expect them to “hang around” on a casual basis as monogamy is not the natural state for those of this archetype. Flying foxes enjoy the freedom of the night’s sky and do not take well to being caged, often sneaking away to spend time on their own or to find excitement via the way of secret lovers. If you are dating a male Flying Fox you will likely tire eventually of his inability to maintain his end of a conversation. If you are dating a female Flying Fox you will likely tire of her fierce independence and tendency to resent any action which she may perceive as “suffocating”. If you find yourself struggling with these inherent archetypal traits, it is usually best to simply enjoy what it is your Flying Fox can offer you and then set them free to fly off into the night.

Famous Flying Foxes
Katharine Hepburn, Samantha Jones from Sex and the City, Tiger Woods

More on this:
Intro to Animal Archetypes
The Bowerbird Archetype
The Tape Worm Archetype

Are you clingy? You might have the parasite archetype!

The Belief
“True love is two hearts beating as one”

The Biology
The only species on Earth that we know is completely monogamous in all situations is Diplozoon paradoxum, a species of flat worm that lives within the gills of Asian and European freshwater fish. There is little to distinguish male from female in this parasitic species as at adolescence individuals fuse their genitals to a mate to which they remain connected until “death do them part”. If a suitable companion does not become available right away he/she will enter into a dormant state, putting life on hold as they wait for a happily ever after. Diplozoons can stay in this dormant state for several months while for waiting for love to show up which, in tape worm time, is an eternity. If a suitor fails to show up, he/she perishes. If a suitor does show up, though, and the two adjoin, they then develop gonads and mature into their innately codependent adult form where they are literally attached at the hip, literally cannot survive without each other, and two literally “become one”.

Tape Worm People
Tape worm people make up a large sector of the human community. Indeed, most people over the course of their life will either become a Tape Worm or will date a Tape Worm. Like the actual species, those of this archetype feel that life does not begin until they meet their perfect partner. They feel as though their life, before meeting that person, was on hold, meaningless, and/or dormant. They are extremely co-dependent and hold the belief that they cannot physically survive without their partner. When separated, Tape Worm people feel tremendous longing, even physical pain, and as such will go to great lengths to prevent their partners from engaging in activities that do not include them. Similarly, Tape Worms, upon entering a relationship, tend to “ditch” their friends as they are uninterested in participating in activities outside of the pairing.

There is a lot of stigma attached to Tape Worm people because, as parasites, they have the ability to drain life-force energy from those around them. They are often described as being “energy suckers,” “clingy,” and “suffocating.” Their embodiment of this archetype is usually the result of low self-esteem and a weak sense of self. It is therefore advisable that Tape Worm people partake in clubs, sports, and/or organisations without their partners as a way to develop a sense of individual identity. Most would also benefit from adopting the affirmation “whatever my partner is or isn’t doing, I am whole within myself”. In time most Tape Worms will exit this archetype and enter into the realm of a less parasitic but equally loyal and affectionate species such as the Bewick’s Swan or Emu.

The Tape Worm / Tape Worm Couple
The tape worm / tape worm pair believes in the romantic ideology of “two become one” and are described by others as being “attached at the hip.” They struggle to ever be apart and if separated, will experience a sensation of physical pain and debilitating longing. Tape Worm couples, over time, fuse their two identities together and come to describe all their likes and dislikes in terms of “We.” In wildlife biology we learn that a species is always better off for having a strong diversity in the gene pool. Relationships, too, are stronger for having a strong diversity within the pairing and Tape Worm couples, in particular, would benefit immensely by spending time apart on a regular basis to develop their own individual identities. If this is not possible (or if it is too painful), it is advisable that Tape worm Couples involve themselves in team or group activities where they can maintain their closeness to one other while forming relationships with other people and engaging in activities “outside the gill”.

The Tape Worm / Other Archetype Couple
Dating a tape worm can be an extremely challenging scenario because, as parasites, these people can be draining. Your tape worm partner will not be content with you engaging in any social activities that do not include them and because they do not have a strong sense of self, will often adopt your likes and dislikes as a subconscious attempt to meld into your form. In most scenarios, a Tape Worm will eventually develop into a new archetype but it is not advisable to wait around for this to happen because it is often through the demise of a relationship that a Tape Worm continues his/her evolution. To remedy a relationship with a Tape Worm you might seek couple’s counselling as a way to understand what life events brought forth this archetype and what you did or didn’t do to enable it.

Famous Tape Worms
Romeo & Juliet, Rapunzel, Sleeping Beauty (who entered into a dormant state while awaiting her perfect partner – this could be argued, however, as the dormancy was not her idea)

More on this:
Intro to Animal Archetypes
The Bowerbird Archetype
The Flying Fox Archetype

free love in the animal kingdom

Like most women I have a keen interest in trying to understanding the dynamics of romantic relationships. I have never been particularly lucky in love and in trying to understand the reason for this have dedicated thousands, probably millions, of hours analysing, tearing apart, and seeking desperately to figure out what it is that makes for a lasting, nurturing, and healthy human relationship. As a University student I took a class by evolutionary psychologist Dr. Dave P Barash, author of “The Myth of Monogamy.” Dr. Barash’s class was one of my very favourites over the course of my degree but despite how much I enjoyed it, I did not enjoy the fact that it obliterated any hope I had for discovering in the animal kingdom an example of untarnished, fully-requited, monogamous love.

We’ve all heard stories of animals that “mate for life” – lobsters, swans, ducks, etc (check out “ducks, heartless rapists or evolutionary geniuses” if you are interested in a gigantic rant on this subject). The fact of the matter, though, is that of even the animals who form the strongest pair bonds, there are only a few examples of animals who have not been found to sneak away every once and a while to cheat – to form “EPC’s” or “extra pair copulations”. I learned from Dr. Barash, in fact, that the only species that we know for sure is fully monogamous is a species of tape worm that, at the time of sexual maturity, fuses its genitals to its mate. I suppose the praying mantis could also be considered monogamous as infidelity isn’t possible in a society where females eat the heads of their partners as a post coitus snack – to call that monogamy, though, seems a pretty desperate stretch.

If the quest is to understand human males, I suppose we have to look to primates, our closest relative being of course, the chimpanzee. In primates, interestingly enough, promiscuity of females can be predicted by looking at the testicle size of the males. Chimps have giant balls, the biggest of any primate and twice the size of the average man. To see what I mean, have a look at this post on DailyRandom.

They use these giant balls to produce in excess enough semen to flush out the lingering semen of any males to which their partners may have recently mated. In essence, male chimps have big balls because female chimps are whores. Ouch. To be fair, the males are whores, too though. In fact, chimpanzee society is reminiscent of 1960s style Haight Ashbury free love and males will stop nothing short of screwing a frog for the sake of a decent orgasm (look this up on YouTube if you feel the need to be disturbed for the rest of your life.) As human’s closest living relative, the love lives of chimps have done nothing to give me faith in the possibility of a future loyal and loving partner.

I was relieved slightly to find out about gorillas, a species whose testicles are microscopic in comparison to chimps and whose manhoods swell to a throbbing 1.5 inches in preparation for coitus. Their societies participate in a harem structure centred around a dominant male. The females tend to be extremely loyal and as a result, the male has no need for excessive genatalia. This is by no mean an example of monogamy but it is at least a stable and reliable social structure whereby the females are loyal to their partner and are in return, cared for.

Humans are about mid ranking across the primate testicle spectrum which suggests that our females have a tendency toward fidelity but that males still require a respectable volume of semen to flush out their women on the off chance that they have been acting lately more like a chimps than gorillas. There is significant variation, though, in testicle size amongst individuals of our humble species with some falling more toward the chimpanzee end of the spectrum and others toward the gorilla. Could it be that perhaps those men with large balls come from a genetic lineage of men who would be attracted to more promiscuous women and who, like chimps, would tend to be promiscuous, themselves? And could it be that men of smaller bits and pieces would tend to, like gorillas, attract more loyal women – or perhaps entire harems of loyal women?

Hmmm…

This would be a perfect campfire disucssion!

Ducks – heartless rapists or evolutionary geniuses?

When I was a wildlife student at the University of Washington, I used to walk past the school’s iconic Drumheller Fountain each morning on the way to class. The fountain was home to a small community of ducks and in the springtime they would come to life with a multitude of elaborate “courtship rituals.” To me the term “courtship” evokes images of young people in love – hand holding on park benches, candlelit dinners, that sort of a thing. It is, as I understand it, an institution where ladies are ladies and gentlemen are gentlemen. “Courtship”, then, I do not believe is an accurate description for what happens in the duck world because the things I have very unfortunately witnessed at the UW and in waterways around the world have no relation to anything a proper gentleman would ever consider doing to the lady of his affection – especially in a public fountain.

To cut to the chase, let me first explain that in the bird kingdom is it quite unique to have a phallus. 97% of bird species, in fact, lack a phallus and reproduce by a process known as the “cloacal kiss”. I, however, have always called this process “projectile ejaculation” because far more is involved than is possible in a kiss – at least not any kiss I have ever experienced. In projectile ejaculation, male and female birds press their cloacas (multi-function holes) together and the male, in a moment of passion, squirts a fertile geyser into the female. I’ll admit this all sounds rather repulsive but for many species, the minutes, hours, and in some cases, days leading up to this act are actually full of quite stunning displays – romantic even. Bald Eagles, for instance, as part of their courtship rituals perform magical acrobatics in the sky. They circle the clouds like ballroom dancers and hold each other tightly while spiraling downwards through the trees in an incredible display of affection. For ducks, however, part of that 3% of bird species that do carry a phallus, love making is something altogether different.

In the duck world, rape (or if you are scientist, “forced copulation”) is a fact of life. It seems to be as normal an act as reading the Sunday paper or going for a jog after work. It’s common practice for a male, or sometimes a group of males, to chase after and pounce an unsuspecting female, hold her head under water and while nearly drowning her, force himself violently into her. It’s not pretty and the females never seem to enjoy themselves, as you would quite expect. To maintain some semblance of control in this rather distressing state of affairs, female ducks have evolved a couple of brilliant adaptations.

In the female mallard, one of the species where rape is particularly common, the vagina has evolved into a virtual labyrinth complete with twist turns, dead ends, and special sacs that will hold semen, preventing it from traveling to the egg. It is believed that these alternate routes are activated when the female tenses up (ie when being mounted by an irritating or unattractive male). If, however, she finds herself later on in the company of a male to whom she has taken a particular liking, she will then relax her muscles and the labyrinth transforms to straight shot to Georgia. Unfortunately, however, the males in this story have raised the stakes and have evolved alongside the girls a fairly frightening looking corkscrew shaped phallus to navigate the maze.

Ever since witnessing the springtime horrors of Drumheller fountain and coming to learn about the extraordinary adaptations female ducks have evolved in response to the thoughtless men in their lives I have been searching to discover the meaning in it all. Could it be the power inherent in a phallus is all too much for ducks and has sent the males on a crazy power trip? Or is it simply that because ducks have so few examples in the bird kingdom of appropriate phallus use to look to that they simply have no idea what to do? Or is it a bigger issue all together?

The jury is still out on this one people but I would love to hear your theories.