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17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
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ScienceShot: Giving Bugs to Show Love
20 April 2012 2:28 pm
Nothing says love like chewed-up body parts—at least for nursery-web spiders (Pisaura mirabilis). In some populations of these European arachnids, females won't mate with males unless the suitors present a gift of dead insects wrapped in silk. Males carry their bundles as they search for mates, but it's unclear how that extra baggage affects their running and fighting abilities. There's also been the question of whether the eight-legged Casanovas cheat by including inedible objects or dried-out food in their gifts to make them appear larger. By capturing 58 male nursery-web spiders in the wild, researchers have now addressed both issues in a study published online this month in Animal Behaviour. They found that 23 of those males had gifts, all of them containing parts of freshly-killed insects. In laboratory combat trials, male spiders with gifts weren't hampered in their fights with gift-free rivals, although some dominant males with and without gifts stole gifts from weaker males. The bundles did compromise male running abilities in timed laboratory trials, slowing the spiders by about 42% compared with similarly sized males without gifts. This is the first study demonstrating transportation costs for gift-carrying in insects and spiders. The team speculates that this labor of love advertises a male's ability to find food and to hang on to it.
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