Study shows male spiders perform oral sex on females
| Last updated
Featured Image Credit: Arterra Picture Library / Allen Creative / Steve Allen / Alamy
Male spiders perform oral sex on female spiders while mating, a study has found. Anyone else find it quite strange that this study was even conducted in the first place?
The study, which has the wonderful title of Spider behaviours include oral sex encounters, centred on the sexual activities between Darwin’s bark spider, a species where the females are bigger and heavier than the males - something the study's author says often leads to extreme sexual behaviours in spiders, including 'sexual cannibalism, opportunistic mating, mate-binding, genital mutilation, plugging and emasculation', quite a list.
Matjaž Gregorič and his team from the Scientific Research Centre of the Slovenian Academy of Sciences and Arts spent two weeks studying the species in Madagascar’s Andasibe-Mantadia National Park, before carrying out mating trials in a lab.
The researchers discovered that the male spiders will routinely salivate onto the female’s genitalia during sex. The females do not return the favour, if you were wondering.
Gregorič said: “Oral sexual contact seems to be an obligate sexual behaviour in this species as all males did it before, in between, and after copulations, even up to 100 times.” On a completely related note, I wonder if anyone has done a study on whether spiders get jaw ache?
And it wasn't just oral sex the spiders got up to either, the study stated: "Our field and laboratory study uncovers a rich sexual repertoire that predictably involves cannibalism, genital mutilation, male preference for teneral females and emasculation." Crikey.
The researchers did not know why the spiders had oral sex, but suggested it could be a way to signal the quality of the male or that enzymes in the saliva could ‘provide physiological advantage to the donor’s over rival’s sperm’. The author goes on to say that further testing would be required before a definitive answer could be given.
Interestingly, they’re not the only species to do so, with the study noting: “The only other spiders known to exhibit oral sexual encounters are the size dimorphic widows (Latrodectus), where nothing is known about the phenomenon apart from its occurrence, i.e. reports of oral contact and salivation.”
While male fruit flies ‘lick female genitals as part of the courtship, which does not influence paternity, but influences the duration of copulation’, so there you go, these bugs are wild in more ways than one.
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to UNILAD via [email protected]