Sexual cannibalism became a hot topic of debate among biologists in 1984. Scientists from Cornell and the University of Texas at Austin proposed that it evolved because the males of some species could get an evolutionary advantage from being eaten. Their bodies could nourish the mothers of their offspring, raising the odds that those offspring would successfully hatch and grow up to produce their own offspring, thus carrying on the father?s genes.Gould would believe what he wanted to believe.
The late Harvard biologist Stephen Jay Gould attacked this argument, calling it a prime example of how biologists had become "overzealous about the power and range of selection by trying to attribute every significant form and behavior to its direct action."
Dr. Gould argued that sexual cannibalism was too rare to be significant. It is possible, he said, that females eat their mates simply because they mistake them for prey.
Subsequent research refuted parts of Dr. Gould?s argument. Some sexual cannibals, including female Chinese mantises, actually eat a lot of males. "One study estimated that 63 percent of the diet of females are male mantids," Dr. Brown said. "So they?re the main food source."
Thursday, September 07, 2006
This Can?t Be Love
NY Science Times reports: