People get all excited about species where the female eats the male after sex. But you know what? It’s just not that big of a deal. The male’s purpose in life was to mate. He was only going to do it once, he’s done, and he can either go crawl off in a corner and die by himself or he can offer his tissues as a little protein gift to his offspring. I mean, which makes more sense?
Yesterday for ScienceNOW I wrote about a spider that can go one of three routes after sex: Get eaten by the female, lose one palp (the organ he delivers sperm with), or lose both palps. I don’t know if he chooses or the female does. In any case, if he survives, he fights off competitors who might think they could get in with his lady. These eunuchs are really good fighters. My story is about a study that tries to explain why.
I would also like to explain this photo, because I think it’s hard to see. The big spider is a female. The red arrow is pointing at a discarded palp. But see that spider over on the right? That’s a male! Look how teensy he is! And ready for a fight. You go, little guy.
Photo: Qi Qi Li