What images do the words 'traumatic fertilization' conjur? If you are picturing deep-sea squid, you are either a fellow subscriber to Scientific American's daily digest or in dire need of pscyhological help.

This little nugget of 'size does matter' wisdom popped into my email inbox today, and I have to share.

Gary Stix (no discernable relation to the rock band Styx) started the story with this little gem: "What do you do to pass on your genes to the next generation if you are really hard up, it’s too dark to see clearly and you are literally under enormous pressure. The short answer: play rough and weird."

Deep-sea squidThe species of deep sea squid "that strut their stuff in the blackness that prevail thousands of feet beneath the ocean surface encounter few opportunities to  mate and so every tryst must count," Stix writes.

The squid are very aggressive - a trait noted when the giant creepy suckers were finally filmed live a few years ago.

The males are smaller than the females and "if they don’t play hard, fast, or clever they may get eaten by the Big Mamas. At these depths, size may matter a lot to make sure those little packets of love really stay put."

Stix goes on to write about the plight that, sadly, many females can identify with:

For female  squids, sex is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience—and an apparently horrible one at that. The female releases millions of tiny eggs into the water along with the sperm contributed by the one male who got his hooks into her, and usually never goes back for seconds, the researchers found. Afterward, they never let a male get close—a behavior that even has led to the technical term "traumatic fertilization."
The posting includes a great tidbit about one squid literally shooting himself in the foot (tentacle?), and a particular group of male cross-dressers. Who knew squid were so perfect for a Vegas lounge show?

Also be sure to peruse the comments. My two favorites: "Sounds like squid pro quo to me!" and of course, "And this is different from human dating... how?"