Tuesday, March 13, 2007

Arachnidus Interruptus

I'm all about ensuring your mate isn't cheating on you, but some species to ridiculous ends.

When a male wasp spider discovers a potential partner, he turns her on by shaking her web. The female thereupon supports herself on her long legs on the web so that the male, who is much smaller, can then creep under her body. The rest works hydraulically: the tip of a transformed leg filled with sperm is inserted into the female’s sexual orifice — like a ski boot in its binding.

How erotic. These kind of modified special appendages speak to the plasticity of multicellular organisms. There's a dirty joke in there somewhere, but I'm sure you're clever enough to supply your own setup and punchline.

I like the diametric conclusions drawn, most of which makes sense.

On the one hand detaching part of the genital organ could help the male to escape from the female’s murderous attack. On the other hand it might be a mechanism ensuring that paternity is maintained, preventing or impeding further copulation by the female.

Enjoy the hard source for those interested in further detail. Of course, any time you can work the term 'genital damage' into your title, you know you're gonna get some press! Here you are!

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