You might think that our corporate office in Chicago is a far stretch from the wild tropical forest of Isla Palenque – but it’s more of a jungle up here than you would think. A social jungle, that is. While brunching last weekend in Chicago’s Wicker Park neighborhood, I overheard a group of 20-something women trading the worst pick-up lines from the night before, including:
“I think I want to kiss your face.”
“So did it hurt?…. When you fell from heaven.”
“I may be no Flintstone, but I can make your bed rock.”
Although the women were laughing, it was obvious that none of these bold attempts to win them over worked. Shocking, I know. Their conclusion was that perhaps men would be better off not only dropping the pick-up lines, but just not speaking at all.
When it comes to the humorous and embarrassing pick up lines we all love to hate, the act of trying impress or win over a lady may seem like a social faux pas from modern times. However, showing off and shameless courting are ritualistic practices with deep historical roots that can be found throughout every culture on earth.
In the animal kingdom, courting rituals make the Chicago bar scene look like child’s play. Complex melodies, dazzling colors and life threatening battles are just some of the ways animals attempt to win a female over. One such practice includes a soundtrack that can be heard for miles and rallying that literally makes waves in the ocean. The result is oftentimes injury and even death. All of this for love? It could only be a performance by one of the biggest species on earth, Humpback Whales.
When a female humpback wants attention, she will slap the water with her fins and tail until about half a dozen 40-ton males gather around her. Once their attention has been piqued, it’s all about the chase. When the female plays hard to get and swims away, the males follow, crashing roughly into each other in an attempt to be the first behind her. This heat run will establish which male is strongest. The female knows that the strongest mate will give her the strongest offspring. When one male emerges as the victor, he has officially earned the female’s attention and the right to mate with her. They swim off into the ocean together while the other males head to the nearest reef to sulk.
Watch the Humpbacks in action on the Discovery Channel series, LIFE, the video is online here.
So, men of Chicago, Panama and the world, perhaps you should consider body thumping the guy next to you the next time you want to pick up a chick. You should definitely ram into every guy in the bar until you are the last one standing. Or better yet, don’t be an animal. Leave the extravagant courting to the humpbacks and cheesy pick-up lines to our monkey friends, because once you’ve been gossiped about at brunch, you have totally lost your chance.
Humpback Whales by the Numbers:
1 much like the human finger print, each humpback has a unique gray and blue marking on their underside
2.5 tons is how much they weigh at birth
2-3 years between giving birth
4-7 years old is when a calf reaches puberty
10 seconds after its birth a newborn whale instinctively swims to the surface for air
10-12 feet wide when full grown
10-12 months is how long a calf feeds from its mother
12 month gestation period
14 ft is the length of a newborn baby
15 years old is the age a whale is mature
15 ft is the length of each pectoral fin
30 minutes after being birthed, a newborn can swim
40-45 ft is the length of males
40-50 tons is how much they weigh
50-60 ft is the length of females
100 lbs of milk is how much a baby calf drinks a day
3,000 pounds of food is how much an adult whale consumes a day