We've known for a while now that lady spiders are the animal kingdom's OG misandrists. Lady spiders hit it and quit it like it's their job (which it is, I guess—it's not like they mate, chew on bugs, and work 9-5 at the bail bonds office), and when they "quit it" they also preemptively quit it on behalf of every other lady spider their dude's spiderwang might possibly come into contact with. Because they eat him. TO DEATH. It's hella metal.
The Dark fishing spider takes that black widow paradigm to the next level, though. Male dark fishing spiders are so downtrodden by the matriarchy that they just spontaneously die as soon as they're done depositing their sacred seed inside their girlfriend's jizz cavity (science term). The spent little warriors then dangle from her underbelly, convulsing, until she feels like a post-coital snack.
So basically the male dark fishing spider is like if a Bugle could get you pregnant.
...Not totally against it.
Researcher Steven Schwartz began studying the spiders in 2006.
What Schwartz saw, again and again, was that after a bit of courtship and a quick thrust of the pedipalp, the males died. Every time. “I have not found a male yet that has not died when he copulates,” Schwartz said, estimating that he’s observed nearly 300 such matings.
The reason is an unusual quirk of the male dark fishing spider’s physiology. During mating, a male inflates what’s called a hematodochal bulb inside the pedipalp, the appendage he uses to deposit sperm in the female. In most species, the bulb can be deflated after mating. In dark fishing spiders, it’s irreversibly inflated, resulting in a sudden shift in blood pressure that causes the male to curl up and leaves him immobilized and stuck to the female – doomed but not immediately dead.
When Schwartz separated the mated males from their giant partners, he found that the circulatory system of the males continued to pump blood for an average of almost three hours. “Technically, they’re not dead yet, but they’re on that trajectory and they’re not coming back,” Schwartz said. Sex, for these spiders, “is a one-shot deal.”
So basically these womyn-spiders scuttle around slutting it up all over the creek, stealing all the man-seed, and then devouring their suicidal spider-boyfriends so they can indoctrinate thousands of militant misandrist spider-babies without the taint of evil patriarchal influence!!? That sounds familiar. WHO LET THE SPIDERS READ OUR TOP SECRET FEMINAZI WOMANIFESTO!?
Schwartz is currently working on an investigation of why the death + cannibalization model is a beneficial one for the spiders, but he says, “We do have evidence that by dying, and then through sexual cannibalization, [the male] increases the number and size of his own offspring." So...oh. It's because of evolution and stuff.
I guess sometimes a spider is just a spider.
Video still via Wired.