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Lions copulating

Copulation , copulation , copulation or pairing refers to the sexual union of a male and a female human or animal, for fertilization to and thus reproduction can result. Mating in humans is usually called coitus or sexual intercourse (in the narrower sense) or vaginal intercourse . In animal breeding , the process is called blankets .


Snow monkeys ( Macaca fuscata ) mating (copulation)

Copulation is the act of mating. The male individual introduces sperm into the interior of the female individual, where they fertilize one or more egg cells ( internal fertilization). If the egg cells are fertilized outside the body, e.g. As in many species of fish ( live-bearing fish excluded), one does not speak of copulation, but from Laichakt . Mating occurs through instinct , sex drive and corresponding triggers such as courtship behavior and odor signals of the female animal (see also pheromones and rut ).


Ostrich at courtship ritual on Farm Neuhof in Namibia (2018)World icon
Lizards mating ( Simplon 2015)

For most vertebrate species, mating is tied to mating times. Many vertebrates show a more or less pronounced courtship behavior in preparation for a consensual sexual mating; this is part of mating behavior .

Under higher animals spread the Aufreiten (also: leap ) of the male to the female. Some primates including humans , as well as whales and some other mammal species, practice ventro-ventral (belly to belly) copulation. This mating behavior, which is otherwise rare in the animal kingdom, was observed most frequently in bonobos, mostly in captivity, and only in 2008 in lowland gorillas in the wild.

Reproductive medicine

As an alternative to natural jumping, there is the option of artificial insemination . Sperm obtained from the male animal through artificial stimulation are introduced into the female's genital tract using medical instruments. If artificial insemination does not seem promising, there is the possibility of artificial insemination ( in vitro fertilization ).


  • R. Frey: The connection between mating position, mode of locomotion and organ of copulation in Vertebrata, with the exception of the Mammalia. A comparative consideration . Journal of Zoological Systematics and Evolutionary Research 33 (1995), pp. 17-31.

Web links

Commons : mating  - collection of images, videos and audio files
Wiktionary: mating  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Wiktionary: mate  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Frans de Waal: Bonobo Sex and Society ( Memento of July 2, 2007 in the Internet Archive )
  2. Gorillas like the missionary position , Die Welt, February 20, 2008