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Female newt exhibiting male courtship behavior?

This is a discussion on Female newt exhibiting male courtship behavior? within the Newt and Salamander Help forums, part of the Beginner Newt, Salamander, Axolotl & Help Topics category; Anyone seen anything like this? I've been catching one of my female Notophthalmus courting the other females. She will 'hula', ...

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Old 17th February 2015   #1 (permalink)
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Default Female newt exhibiting male courtship behavior?

Anyone seen anything like this?

I've been catching one of my female Notophthalmus courting the other females. She will 'hula', tail fan, and today she has been trying to amplex another female. She is definitely a girl, though, and was just laying eggs a few days ago. The other females are interested and follow her around, except the object of her affections who just tries to get away.

Caught it on video today: https://m.youtube.com/watch?feature=...&v=hjhwBVf94Z8

So... Is this a Jurassic Park type situation or what? There are currently no males in the tank, but I've been thinking of adding one back to see if that causes any change in behavior.



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Old 17th February 2015   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Female newt exhibiting male courtship behavior?

I have heard of females courting females, and it isn't known why. I assume they are homosexual newts?



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Old 17th February 2015   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Female newt exhibiting male courtship behavior?

Interesting post. It reminded me of this one, it mentions Notos spcifically, although it's not going to help with an explanation! :P

Cynops sex change?



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Old 17th February 2015   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Female newt exhibiting male courtship behavior?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jAfFa CaKe View Post
I have heard of females courting females, and it isn't known why. I assume they are homosexual newts?
It's an interesting idea, but I think it's probably due to something simpler, like a hormonal change. I don't think this is a 'fixed' thing in this case. I have some science-y ideas about it, but I'll have to think a bit more.

That other thread is interesting! Too bad there are no answers there

So, I added a dude and the ladies went nuts:

Sorry for the algae and video quality. If you look closely, you can see at least two spermatophores already. Maybe they were just lonely

Eta: don't know why the last line is formatted all strange - can't see any tags in the editor.



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Old 17th February 2015   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Female newt exhibiting male courtship behavior?

Looks like you'll have some extra mouths to feed!



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Old 17th February 2015   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Female newt exhibiting male courtship behavior?

That's very interesting.
I've observed, several times and in various species, females doing something similar to the breeding behaviour typical of their species, but that's almost certainly a signal they send when they feel threatened and it is different enough from the actual courting behaviour that one can tell the difference.
However, this is something else entirely, or at least looks nothing like what i've seen before.
Personally, like yourself, i would be inclined to suspect a hormonal cause. It's possible that she is a genetic anomaly, possibly even genetically male. Sex determination appears to be somewhat complicated in newts, not exclusively correlated to chromosomal factors, and sex reversals or supressions are well known in other species. It wouldn't be far fetched if such an individual would display some opposite gender behaviours to various degrees.
I'm speculating, of course, but it's an interesting possibility.

As for that female being homosexual, i think that's a mistaken view entirely. For starters, homosexuality does not mean behaving in a fashion typical of the opposite gender. Also, she obviously has mated successfully with a male, which implies that her brain responds to stimuli from males and therefore is not a (at least strictly) homosexual brain.
If she consistently showed no response to male cues and instead responded to female ones, then that would be reasonable, but this is not the case, what we see is a female individual displaying a behaviour normally only observed in males, and that doesn't fall within the realm of sexual orientation, at all.

Whatever the underlying cause, this is just another wonderful example of the diversity inherent to all species. It's very interesting indeed!



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Old 28th February 2015   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Female newt exhibiting male courtship behavior?

I wasn't being serious when I said that, nor did I mean it homophobically.



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Old 28th February 2015   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Female newt exhibiting male courtship behavior?

Rodrigo, thanks for the very thoughtful reply.

She's still doing it, and I've observed the other females dancing, too They're still laying eggs, though.



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