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The Mating Game
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Introduction

Host: Welcome to another exciting edition of The Mating Game, where successful reproduction is what it's all about! We all know that choosing the right partner helps you pass your genes on to the next generation, but choosing the wrong one can send you straight down an evolutionary dead end! I'm Larry, your host on The Mating Game. Are you ready to play?

Follow along as each contestant asks three hidden bachelors or bachelorettes a set of questions, in hopes of identifying that special someone. Believe me, we're bound to see some pretty memorable pairings, so let's get started and see who has the eyes and ears for reproductive success, and who will surely never risk a blind date again. Scroll down to begin, or check out the Dating and Mating Gallery to learn more about our players.

Introduction | Round 1 | Round 2 | Round 3 | Round 4 | Round 5 | Mating Gallery


Round 1

Meet the contestant:
Darren, the great crested grebe
(Podiceps cristatus)

Host: Welcome to another exciting edition of The Mating Game, where successful reproduction is what it's all about! We all know that choosing the right partner helps you pass your genes on to the next generation, but choosing the wrong one can send you straight down an evolutionary dead end! I'm Larry, your host on The Mating Game.

Our first contestant is Darren, a three-year-old great crested grebe visiting us here from his pond in Bavaria. Tell us a bit about yourself Darren.

Darren: Well, like you said, Larry, I'm a great crested grebe. I guess I'd call myself a romantic -- I'm really looking for that one special female. I'm a good dancer, I love giving gifts, and I hope to someday build a great little nest with that special someone!

Host: We all know how important it is to get one's genes into the next generation. For Darren and other grebes that requires a strong pair bond: a reproductive pact between the male and female that is solidified through ritualized activities such as dancing, gift giving, and nest building. These activities help ensure that each mate is fully committed to raising and protecting the young. Darren may be a romantic, but that doesn't mean he's impractical.

Darren, behind each of the three curtains before you sits a different creature -- but only one of them is the female great crested grebe of your dreams! Since you seem very discriminating in your tastes, you shouldn't have much difficulty distinguishing a fellow grebe from another species. But ask your questions wisely -- you may have more in common with another species than you think!


The game:

Question 1:

What would a dream suitor bring to you on a first date?
 

Bachelorette #1: 

Bottom vegetation is always a great thrill.

Bachelorette #2: 

I'm interested in the suitor, not the gift. If I could find someone who would just latch on and never let go, I'd be ecstatic.

Bachelorette #3: 

You know, I don't really date much, so ... I don't have any idea.

Question 2:

If we were to have children, how many would you hope to have?
 

Bachelorette #1: 

Per year? Six.

Bachelorette #2: 

Several hundred would be a dream come true.

Bachelorette #3: 

I haven't thought much about children, per se, but I guess 6,000 would be a successful year.

Question 3:

If I pick you, where do you see us in a year?
 

Bachelorette #1: 

We'll be together, hopefully, but it depends a bit on how well things go between us this year.

Bachelorette #2: 

Inseparable. For as long as we live.

Bachelorette #3: 

Frankly, I don't see the two of us meaning any more to one another in a year than we do now. That's not good or bad, just the way it is.

The choice:

Host: Okay, Darren, it's time to choose.

Do you want to review the answers? Do you know which is your dream mate? When you're ready, click on the curtain to reveal your choice.

Whoa! Darren's choice is Bachelorette Number Two. That's a surprise to some of us, I'll bet. Let's see if Darren is surprised. Ready to meet your mystery date? Not so fast. First, let's meet the bachelorettes you passed up.


Meet the bachelorettes:

Host: Darren, this is difficult for me to tell you. Bachelorette Number One is Stephanie, a four-year-old great crested grebe. Like you, Stephanie is interested in forming a strong pair bond. She enjoys intricate courtship dances and loves to receive gifts of aquatic vegetation. I'm sorry she wasn't your Mating Game choice. Stephanie, as a parting gift we have a beautiful floating nest platform for you -- you'll never suffer a flooded nest again. Thank you for coming.

Now let's meet Chris, a lovely purple tube sponge. As beautiful as Chris is to look at, I think you'd agree, Darren, she's not quite the match for you. In fact, she's not even a fellow vertebrate, so that pretty much eliminates the chance of anything happening between the two of you reproductively. Also, Chris knows nothing about courtship: She reproduces by spilling thousands of eggs into the surrounding water and hoping that some of them will meet up with another sponge's sperm. Darren's weed dance would be completely lost on her! Thanks for uprooting yourself, though, Chris so that you could join us here today.

Now, let's meet your mystery date, Darren. You chose Bachelorette Number Two, a ... um ... beautiful blackdevil anglerfish named Emily. It's not the perfect match, obviously. Aside from the fact that you're different species and have no hope of breeding successfully, Emily is looking for a mate who's nearly completely dependent upon her -- rather parasite-like if you know what I mean. Yes, it's clear you're looking for a strong pair bond, Darren, but Emily may be a bit extreme even for you! You do both share a taste for fish, however and you're going to get a lot of that on your Mating Game vacation to Acapulco, Mexico. Have fun and good luck to both of you!

-> Go to Round 2

Introduction | Round 1 | Round 2 | Round 3 | Round 4 | Round 5 | Mating Gallery

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