Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Kinky mating strategies in the spider world really turn my head.

Here's an example that I love. The male funnel-web spider engages in a complicated mating dance involving drumming of palps and waving of legs, emits a sexy pheromone, and strokes the sides of his chosen lady. These activities induce a state of catilepsis (or temporary coma) in the female, which allows the male spider to mate with her without being cannibalized.

Here's another: some species of orb-weaver spider have sexual dimorphism that affects the pinchers/jaws. The males in these species have great big jaws that they use to pry open and lock the smaller jaws of the female, and once the male has done this he can mate with the female without getting chomped. I'm sure this is really risky business, because apparently lady spiders really love to eat their mates' heads. It's an excellent source of nutrients.

One more: beautiful crab spiders tie their ladies' legs together with silk, which apparently also helps to prevent chompage. I can understand it. I wouldn't want to take any chances with this vicious hunter.

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