The Loh Down On Science

Spidey Sex

Fifty ways to leave your lover. Here's 51.

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science. Dishing on the cannibalistic sex life of spiders. Oh yeah.

For some nephilid spiders, mating is deathly serious. During the brief copulation, the giant females shove off the smaller males and gobble them up.

This poses males with a problem: How does one mate and survive? Turns out, evolution has given them an escape strategy.

It's emasculating, to say the least. A team of international spider sex researchers say the male can avoid death by breaking off his palp--that is, the sexual organ that pumps sperm. Palp stays put; male bails.

The breakOFF--before the breakUP--helps a male avoid becoming a post-coital supper. It's a bizarre example of remote fertilization. The embedded genitals block other interested males and give a guy his best chance at successfully reproducing with his sole mate.

Get it? Sole. As in only?

Weirdest of all, surviving eunuchs stick around the web and guard the female. Creepy, crawly, cannibalistic love. It's forever!



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