NATURE: SEX AS SUICIDE

WHY SELF-SACRIFICE MAKES PERFECT SENSE FOR SPIDERS

AS GENERATIONS OF BIOLOGY STUdents have learned to their morbid delight, insect-mating behavior can be pretty bizarre. The classic example is lovemaking among the praying mantises, where the female has sex with her partner, then eats him for dessert.

But the mantis has nothing on its distant cousin, the Australian redback spider. The spiders too have turned copulation into a girl-eats-boy story. In this case, though, the male not only lets himself be devoured; he also performs acrobatics to make it happen. As soon as the male has put what is delicately known as his intromittent organ into his much larger...

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