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* Special features: Like spiders, mantids are an example of animals in which sex is dangerous. In spiders, the female often eats the male after sex — but in mantids, the female might eat the male before sex. In about 10 percent of sexual encounters, the female mantid attacks the courting male as he approaches her, bites his head off and then devours his body. Copulatory behavior is controlled by a neural ganglion in the abdomen, so even when the head is bitten off, copulation can proceed normally.

The male mantis does not need his brain to have sex. The female can produce a larger egg case when she has been feeding well, so it makes sense for her to eat the male mantis. Biologists think that it may also make evolutionary sense for the male to donate his body — but only if she uses his sperm to fertilize her eggs. Mantis sex is a tricky business.

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