Today's New York Times has an interesting article today on what it euphemistically calls "sexual cannibalism." In other words, when a female critter, after gettin' jiggy with it, in some way devours her male partner. Thankfully, this only extends to the non-human part of the animal kingdom. Lest you think it's all about a female praying mantis turning Hannibal Lecter on her mate while he's innocently basking in the afterglow, think again:
Male Australian redback spiders court females for up to eight hours by plucking the strands of their web. Once a male starts to mate, he promptly somersaults onto her fangs. He continues to mate as she feeds on him. In some cases, the male crawls a short distance away, courts the female again, and then mates a second time. He flips onto her fangs, and by the end of the second mating he is dead.How horny would you have to be to throw yourself not once but twice onto the fangs (!) of your woman (assuming, of course, you don't get off on that kind of thing)? Apparently, Darwin is to blame:
Male redback spiders benefit from cannibalism, but not because they can become food for their mates. Instead, Dr. Maydianne Andrade of the University of Toronto has found that males that are cannibalized mate more than twice as long as noncannibalized males. They also father twice as many offspring with a female that mates with other males.I fail to see the benefits of a large brood to the ex-spider once he's been lunched. It's not like they'll all send him a card on Father's Day.