It’s a Hard Knock Life for Darwin’s Beetle

Enjoy this tale of sex and war from the BBC’s “Life” documentary.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor.

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  1. And I always considered human mating rituals cumbersome and difficult. I will revise this opinion at once! :)
    Just imagine you made it to the top and there is no female present! On top of that, you’ll then meet a lot of pissed-off beetles on the way down…..

  2. The beetle goes all the way up, beating all other guys in the way, to finally get the chick. When he does, he fucks her and then dumps her. Sounds a lot like human mating rituals to me.

  3. “But she doesn’t seem to be in the mood.”

    Male beetle: Okay, okay, that’s totally cool, really. . . Maybe next time I spend all day climbing and fighting will be a better time for you. . . I mean, it was kind of a bitch to get here but, no I totally understand, really. . . really! No, no, it’s cool. . . It’s just that. . . No, nevermind, I totally don’t want to pressure you. It’s fine, really. . . seeeeriously. Just, you know, call me.

  4. OMFG that beetle is hardcore.

    I was hoping for a surprise ending where the female pushes the male out of the tree. Maybe they will make that change for the Oprah version?

  5. Next time a girl is uninterested after I’ve finally managed to get past the cockblocking and got her attention, I think I’m “flipping her the beetle“.

  6. Either this series uses a million cameras or many of the sequences are artificially arranged. If the latter, not only does it violate the premise of a “nature” show, it hearkens back to the Disney folk who created the lemming myth. Not a characteristic I want in a nature show.

  7. @Rebel 16: At the end of each episode they talk about they got some of the shots in the series.

    This particular scene wasn’t talked about but it seems from everything else they show they take a long time and are careful not to disturb anything. If that’s any indication then they probably do take a number of cameras as well as wait weeks to get the shots they need.

  8. Every time I see anything from Life or Planet Earth I’m in awe of their technical skill and their story telling ability. It’s just amazing.

  9. @Alexrkr7: I wonder, though – did that beetle really spend all day tossing several other males off the tree to “fuck and flip” the female? Or was it several beetles in several trees over several weeks that they compiled into one fictional account?

    It doesn’t matter if the footage is real if it’s cobbled together in a misleading way. Maybe that’s because I find the story of real science to be compelling enough… ? I don’t know.

    Regardless, I did feel as though I was watching a Tim Burton movie… creepy and cool. Hope it was also fairly accurate.

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