10 Weird Ways Organisms Reproduce

Clutch Piracy
Two frogs share a tender moment of romance surrounded by eggs. wulna/iStock/Thinkstock

Clutch piracy is a breeding strategy that involves frogs sporting eye patches and wielding cutlasses while swigging rum.

Actually, no it's not. It does involve frogs, but they're naked and they live in the Pyrenees, not Barbados. Their lack of clothes is important — high in the Pyrenees, the nights are so chilly that frogs, who typically like to mate under the cover of darkness, are forced to get busy on sunny afternoons instead.

Thanks to this local peculiarity, researchers were able to keep a close eye on the process and observed a weird deviation from the usual ho-hum external fertilization they expected to see.

External fertilization is the preferred reproductive strategy of many fish and amphibians. The female lays a "clutch" of eggs in the water and then a male deposits some sperm on them. Frogs like to make sure this process is accomplished without delay. Typically when a female frog is ready to lay her eggs, she lets a male climb on her back and give her a big bear hug. She releases her egg clutch, and the male immediately fertilizes it. However, his sperm might fertilize only a percentage of the eggs in the clutch.

High in the ponds of the Pyrenees, frog romance works a little differently. Male frogs vastly outnumber the females. Because they often can't find a female to mate with, gangs of piratical males have taken to hunting for freshly laid egg clutches. As soon as they find them, they do their best to fertilize any of the unfertilized eggs that are left. Researchers have found clutches with as many as four different fathers! [source: Sanders]