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The Cowpea Seed Beetle Has Gender Relations All Figured Out

The female cowpea seed beetle grows thick skin so as not to be damaged by males.

Cowpea seed beetle

Presumably by now you’ve fully embraced your inner dragonfly and fake death every time a man starts annoying you. But if you really want to get back to nature, there’s another bug you can emulate: the cowpea seed beetle, whose females have developed thicker reproductive tracts to fight off the males and their spiky penises.

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Scientists say this is an example of “extreme genital co-evolution” (hot). The males developed spiky penises to hold onto the females, even if they try to kick them off during sex. The spikes also could cause enough damage to kill the female after her eggs are fertilized, ensuring that she will only produce that male’s young. So in response, females have developed thicker reproductive tracts to protect themselves from the males’ barbs, and also so they can live to bone another day.

Like many species, the cowpea seed beetle appears to be in an evolution race, but as New Scientist writes, “there are no winners, because defeating the opposite sex would be somewhat counterproductive.” Uhh, says you. Because we got that artificial womb; artificial sperm won’t be far behind.

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