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The nation press services
2021-01-20 | Since 1 Month
A male Springbok praying mantis looking for a hook up doesn't have to worry about a female stealing his heart away.
There is, however, a very good change she'll bite his head off, and he knows it.
Indeed, 60 percent of sexual encounters between Springboks—one of nearly 2,000 mantis species across the globe—end in males being eaten as snack.
"Males play Russian roulette whenever they encounter cannibalistic females," explained Nathan Burke, an entomologist at the University of Auckland and an expert on mantis mating rituals.
All male mantises show extreme caution when approaching a prospective partner. Hard to blame them.
But whereas most will sneak up from behind or distract the female with a tasty morsel, the Springbok has an entirely different—and previously unreported—strategy for staying alive, according to findings published Wednesday in Biology Letters.
"Under threat of cannibalistic attack, males try to subdue females by pinning them down in violent struggles," said Burke, co-author with colleague Gregory Holwell of the study.
Males who win the lovers' tussle are far more likely to succeed in consumating the relationship, "which suggests that wrestling is both a mating tactic and a survival tactic," he added.
The key to victory, according to gladiatorial experiments with 52 pairs of mantises, was striking first.