Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Tough Love: Male Spiders Die for Sex

An eight-legged love tragedy may go something like this: The male spider approaches the female, who is four times his size. She scuttles away, but he creeps closer and closer. Finally, he takes hold of her with his spindly legs, climbs aboard and inserts his "penis" into her genital opening and discharges a jet of sperm. Then — quite abruptly — his legs curl underneath his body, he hangs motionless from his lover, and his heart stops beating. The male dark fishing spider (Dolomedes tenebrosus) mates with just one female, and the act results in spontaneous death and genital disfiguration for the male, new research finds. The bride then makes a meal of her mate.

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