- Not Exactly Rocket Science
Traumatic insemination – male spider pierces female’s underside with needle-sharp penis
The courtship rituals of the spider Harpactea sadistica start innocently enough, with a dance and a hug. The male spider taps the female gently with his front legs and embraces her. But from that point onwards, things for the female go rapidly downhill. The male bites her and she becomes passive, allowing him to manoeuvre her into position. Like all spiders, his genitals are found next to his head, on a pair of appendages called the pedipalps. But unusually, his penis ends in a needle-sharp tip called an embolus.
The embolus sits at the end of a loop called the conductor. The male hooks one of these loops around the opposite embolus to steady it. Then, by rotating the anchored needle,