the cannibal mantis myth


"[...] a study by Liske and Davis in 1987 threw the first human light on the importance of the natural environment to behavior in mantises. The Chinese mantis Tenodera aridifolia sinensis was among those wrongly accused of sexual cannibalism during mating in several previous studies. However Liske and Davis, although still stuck in the laboratory, made some concessions to the mantis. They fed the mantises regularly, turned the bright observer lights down, and left the room to replace a fidgeting human observer with a stationary video camera. Surprise surprise, no cannibalism occurred! In fact, a whole courtship behavior by the male and female mantises, new to science, was observed!" - "Under natural conditions, it would seem sensible for them to evolve a courtship behavior that then allows their own kind to turn off the 'pounce and eat' instinct from a safe distance. Such an instinct would be difficult to turn off when hungry or starved under artificial laboratory conditions, but under natural conditions the courtship would allow non-violent mating to occur."


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alles Bild, Text und Tonmaterial ist © Martin Spernau, Verwendung und Reproduktion erfordert die Zustimmung des Authors

Martin Spernau
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