Jennifer Welsh, LiveScience Staff Writer
First Published 01/31/2012 07:24 PM EST
Sex can be dangerous, even deadly if your partner has plans to eat you. When the male orb-web spider has its first, and sometimes last, sexual encounter it has a trick up its sleeve: detachable genitalia which keep pumping even after their owner's moved on.
The orb-web spider Nephilengys malabarensis is sexually cannibalistic and the male has detachable genitals. These spiders have at most two chances to mate: They have a pair of sperm-transferring organs, actually called their "palps" but analogous to a penis, which detach from their bodies when they disengage from mating â either when the female pushes them away and possibly eats them or they successfully run away to risk death another day.
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For spiders this breakage of maleâs sperm-transferring organ is common, says researcher Daiquin Li, of the University of Singapore, but it's usually just the tip.
"However, some spider species exhibit extreme genital mutilation or the 'eunuch phenomenon,' where males castrate their entire pedipalp(s) during copulation," Li, author of a new study on this process, told LiveScience. (Read more...)