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5 December 2013 11:26 am ,
Vol. 342 ,
An animal rights group known as the Nonhuman Rights Project filed lawsuits in three New York courts this week in an...
Researchers have been hot on the trail of the elusive Denisovans, a type of ancient human known only by their DNA and...
Thousands of scientists in the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) are about to lose their jobs as a result of the...
Dyslexia, a learning disability that hinders reading, hasn't been associated with deficits in vision, hearing, or...
Exotic, elusive, and dangerous, snakes have fascinated humankind for millennia. They can be hard to find, yet their...
Researchers have sequenced and analyzed the first two snake genomes, which represent two evolutionary extremes. The...
Snake venoms are remarkably complex mixtures that can stun or kill prey within minutes. But more and more researchers...
At age 30, Dutch biologist Freek Vonk has built up a respectable career as a snake scientist. But in his home country,...
- 5 December 2013 11:26 am , Vol. 342 , #6163
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ScienceShot: Cowardly Spider Can Inseminate Female From Afar
31 January 2012 7:02 pm
The orb-web spider Nephilengys malabarensis is into rough sex. So rough that, in order to avoid being eaten alive (as shown in the photo), the male will often voluntarily break off his whole sex organ, or palp, while it's still lodged in the female's abdomen (red box in photo), living out the rest of his life as an eunuch. Now a group of researchers think they know why evolution has allowed this dead-end dad to survive. They collected 25 pairs of spiders and introduced them to one another. After each pair had mated and the male's palp was left in the female, the researchers dissected the female and counted the sperm in her abdomen and the amount remaining in the embedded palp. That organ, they report online today in Biology Letters, continues to transfer sperm into the female long after the male has fled or been consumed. The longer it's embedded, the more sperm it transfers, and it's even more efficient when the male breaks it off himself to run away, rather than letting the female do it while eating him. So for the male, it's a sacrifice worth making.
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