A Moment of Science

Wolf Spider Mating Choices

A woman will marry the man who reminds her of her father; a man will marry someone similar to his mother. What other species marries based on familiarity?

You know what they say. A woman will marry the man who reminds her of her father, and a man will marry a woman who reminds him of his mother.

Well we’re hardly the only animals to choose mates based on our early social interactions. In fact, though worlds away from us as a species, some female wolf spiders also make their mating choices on the basis of familiarity.

Male wolf spiders run the gamut in physical appearance. They can vary in color and in hairiness. What’s interesting is that there isn’t a general preferred look among females, but instead, females prefer males who look like males they encountered when they were young and sexually immature.

In fact, some female wolf spiders prefer familiarity to the extent that they will often eat a male suitor that doesn’t fit that profile. The wider her range of familiarity with different looking males, the more discriminating a female is, and thus more likely to devour a male who looks unfamiliar.

The influence social experience has on the female wolf spider’s mating choice is almost unheard of among invertebrates. This spider challenges what we thought we knew about arachnids and invertebrates.

  • heleh

    Just curious, but how do you know this? How do you know a spider will choose the mate based on familiarty? Exactly how did you prove this? I know it's not an easy question, but I would appreciate, though do not expect a a reply.

  • heleh

    Just curious, but how do you know this? How do you know a spider will choose the mate based on familiarty? Exactly how did you prove this? I know it's not an easy question, but I would appreciate, though do not expect a a reply.

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