Female Dragonflies Are Pretending to Die in Order to Avoid Irritating Males
by Harriet Marsden / April 2017
Women throughout history have been forced to some extreme lengths in order avoid an aggressive male.
Running away, using a fake name, playing dumb…but playing dead seems intense, no?
Not for these dragonflies.
A new scientific study has observed one species of female dragonfly plummeting to the ground and playing dead, in order to avoid male suitors.
Published in the journal Ecology, the study is entitled: ‘Faking death to avoid male coercion: extreme sexual conflict resolution in a dragonfly.’
Rassim Khelifa, an entomologist from the University of Zurich, Switzerland and the study’s author, first observed this phenomenon in 2015 when he was collecting larvae in the Swiss Alps.
… Female moorland hawkers, unlike other species of dragonflies, aren’t protected by their male mates when they lay their eggs, leaving them vulnerable to harassment.
Because her eggs can be fertilised by just one sexual encounter, mating again right afterwards could potentially damage their reproductive systems.
…According to Khelifa, feigning death to avoid sexual harrassment is almost unique: this would probably be “the fifth in the animal kingdom after a nuptial gift-giving spider, two species of robber fly, and a European mantis”.
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