Scientists set up mantis ‘gladiator matches’ to see why some males keep their heads after sex

Female mantises are notorious for sexual cannibalism, gulping down males before, during or after it’s time to tango. But unlike other male mantises, the male springbok mantis sometimes escapes cannibalism by violently wrestling and even seriously injuring the female during mating bouts.

In a new study, males springboks that sparred with females sometimes escaped becoming a snack; if they pinned down the female, they were more likely to mate and survive the encounter. In contrast, female mantises that won the wrestling match always cannibalized the male, the researchers found.

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