WTF Fun Fact 12677 – How To Survive A Date With A Spider

In many species of spiders, the last thing males do is mate. After that, they’ve done their job for the evolution of the species and are no longer needed. So females have evolved to simply eat them. They provide nutrients for the babies, after all!

It’s called sexual cannibalism and it’s one of the many facts of nature that we humans may have a hard time wrapping our heads around (or not, depending on your mate).

A few species have evolved to avoid this fate – for example, some may choose to amputate their own legs as a defense strategy in order to distract the females and get away (with the remaining legs, of course). In some sense, this makes sense since the female gets some nutrients and the male gets to hobble away with his life. It just seems a bit drastic from a human perspective.

Other spiders have learned to weave silk around the legs of the females before mating so they can make an easier escape afterward, which seems like a wise move as long as the female survives to produce her young.

The Philoponella prominens have developed a strategy whereby they use their two front legs to propel themselves out of reach of the females, getting away with all of their legs and their lives (if they hit the eject button in time, at least).

Since Philoponella prominens don’t have venom, the males who get cannibalized are in for a rough ride before death. The females produce over 400 feet of silk to “mummify” them, typically winding it so tight that they’re crushed and/or suffocated.

Not only are these spiders interesting for their actions but how they achieve them. Most jumping spiders launch from their back legs, so jumping using the front legs leads to some more interesting questions about the evolution of these creatures, especially since they don’t have muscles in those legs.

According to Smithsonian Magazine, the researcher who made this discovery noted that “one male was able to perform the behavior six times over the course of about eight hours, but was finally killed and eaten after his final performance–perhaps being too exhausted to spring himself to safety.”

–  WTF fun fact

Source: “This Male Spider Catapults Itself Into the Air to Avoid Sexual Cannibalism” — Smithsonian Magazine

WTF Fun Fact #12391 – A Desert Marathon Disaster

A 39-year-old former Italian police officer Mauro Prosperi decided to run in the 1994 Marathon des Sables. The 6-day race requires a 155-mile run through the Sahara Desert, but the former Olympic pentathlete felt up to the challenge.

However, a sandstorm hit the runners, and Prosperi got lost in the desert for 10 days. He survived by eating small animals such as lizards, drinking bat blood and his own urine, and covering himself in the sand at night to stay warm.

Fearing he would be declared missing and his wife wouldn’t be able to claim his life insurance for 10 years unless his body was found, he tried to cut his wrists. However, he was so dehydrated that his blood clotted immediately and he lived.

Telling his story to BBC News in 2014, he said: “My wife, Cinzia, thought I was insane – the race is so risky that you have to sign a form to say where you want your body to be sent in case you die. We had three children under the age of eight, so she was worried. I tried to reassure her. “The worst that can happen is that I get a bit sunburned.”

The race has changed since the debacle.

“These days the Marathon des Sables is a very different experience, with up to 1,300 participants it’s like a giant snake – you couldn’t get lost if you tried. But back in 1994, there were only 80 of us, and very few who were actually running, so most of the time I was on my own,” Prosperi said.

– WTF Fun Facts

Source: How I drank urine and bat blood to survive — BBC News