How brutal is nature

Sexual violence in the animal kingdom

Sex against the partner's will

A custom that is relatively widespread in the animal kingdom is sex against the will of the partner. Researchers have observed it in dolphins, sheep, bats and mallards.

The males often attack the females in groups, which can have dramatic consequences. For example, female mallards are so persistently pursued by several drakes at the same time that sex turns into a struggle for life and death.

Every male wants to mate with the female first. In this zeal for reproduction, the males often push the female underwater. Experts estimate that up to ten percent of female mallards are drowned when their sexual partners are attacked in this way.

Apparently this happened accidentally. According to the scientists, the brutal behavior of the animals towards their sexual partners, which is strongly reminiscent of rape, is not a cruelty, but a pure reproductive strategy. For the males, it is simply a matter of passing on their own genes as successfully as possible.

Chastity belt as a contraceptive

Another tactic to secure your own offspring is also brutal and is reminiscent of methods from the Middle Ages. So that the female can no longer mate with another male after sex, his sexual partner puts on him a kind of chastity belt when he says goodbye. Usually these are resin-like plugs. Moles, house mice, but also some insect and spider species follow this reproductive strategy.

Cannibalism among partners

Anyone who thinks that only the males are cruel is wrong. In a total of around 80 species - for example scorpions, praying mantises and mosquitoes - researchers have found that the females eat their males before, during or after sex.

The most common culprits are the spiders. The mating of the wasp spider, for example, often only takes a few seconds, because no sooner has the much smaller male carefully approached the female and clicked its sperm-filled button into its genital opening, than it attacks him.

For the male, this is usually fatal. Sometimes it is lucky and the female "only" snatches a few legs from it. The male can rarely escape unharmed.

It is not known why the females attack, disfigure or even eat their sexual partners. Apparently they are not driven by hunger, because even saturated females attack the males, and the females who have absorbed their partner after sex do not lay more eggs either.

Author: Lena Ganschow

Status: 20.06.2017, 12:00