Selective Appetites: A Sociobiological Tale

in The Ink Well2 months ago (edited)

“Filthy, absolutely filthy,” Dr. Emily Swanson said while watching a video of a male spider mounting a much larger female and guiding his sexual palpal organ into her epigyne. Under the UV light, their bodies glowed in ghostly colors that made the mating ritual even more bizarre.

As the old joke went, natural selection was about the three Fs: feeding, fighting, and mating. The Giant Zebra spider found in the caves of Mars combined all three in a single romantic session.

In the video, the male spider dug the hairy spikes on his legs into the female’s back. She made a shrill sound that readily excited the male, and he began to writhe and squeeze his organ at her direction.

Dr. Swanson’s focus on the video was such that she didn't notice the silhouette of the man standing in the doorway.

She gasped, and quickly closed her laptop. Then adjusting her spectacles, she said, “my goodness, I did not see you standing there.”

“I didn't mean to startle you,” the man said. “I just took a left turn somewhere and got lost. I’m looking for the neuroscience lab.”

“It’s down the hall to your right,” she said. “Past the cafeteria.”

“Thank you.”

“Sure thing,” she said and waited for him to leave.

He turned to go but then stopped.

“I know it’s none of my business, but were those Zebra spiders in the video?”

“You’re right, it’s none of your business,” she said matter-of-factly, “but if you’re curious, yes, those were Giant Zebra spiders. I study sexual selection in their species.”

“They kill their mates, don’t they?”

“Oh yes!” she said. “They’re very efficient when it comes to their survival and that of their offspring. In fact, the female mates with several males just to make sure she has plenty of choice.”

He laughed.

"Those bio-engineers do have a sense of humor," he said.

"The behavior evolved naturally," she said correcting him. She opened her laptop. "Close the door, and let me show you."

The man did as she requested and approached her desk. Only the dim light of the laptop screen illuminated the room.

In the video, the male spider copulated vigorously with the female, who made a shrill sound.

“Her cries guide the male behavior,” said Dr. Swanson in her professorial voice. “In this species, males compete with each other for mates. They take the initiative in luring females as in most species, but ultimately, the female spider is the one who decides whose sperm fertilizes her eggs, and she does so by copulating with as many males as possible. The thing is, this behavior was not present in the original lab-grown species but emerged spontaneously after mere decades of evolution. Survival of the fittest in fast-forward. Her choices drive the evolution of her species. My research seeks to understand the mechanisms underlying this behavior. The interplay between male competition for mates and female sexual selection.”

The man remained silent for a moment.

“Truly remarkable,” he said, his eyes glued to the video.

The smaller male spider jumped off the female's back in a burst of seminal fluid.

“Isn’t that neat?” Emily said. “Jumping off like that not only saved his life but also ripped off his sexual organ.”

“Why in the world would the male do that?” said the surprised man.

“To plug her up,” said Emily. “Now she won’t be able to copulate as efficiently with other males. By breaking off his organ, he improves the odds of his sperm being chosen. As far as the female is concerned, she must acquire the best quality sperm she can get to make beautiful babies. So, she’ll mate with many others and choose the best in spite of her condition. It’s like an arms race between the male sperm and the female egg. An evolutionary battle of the sexes.”

“Fascinating,” the man said.

“Yes, I think so. We can learn so much about sexual selection and understand the mechanisms that drive its evolution... even in artificial species.”

The man nodded, then after some brief remarks, he excused himself and left.

Dr. Swanson turned to the screen where another male spider was about to mount the female.

“Oh, you sneaky devil,” she said picking up her pen and notebook.

Later that evening, on the way home, she thought about the man. She didn’t remember any details of his face because it was dark in the lab. Not that such superficial things mattered to her. Or did they? She remembered the way his deep voice made her feel safe, and his scent made her feel warm. Triggers that released some deep rooted instinct.

She sighed.

Really, Emily? Martian spider sex and natural selection? Is that how you plan to attract a mate?

She hadn’t even asked him his name.

She turned on the radio and tried to forget all about males and sexual selection. Riding along the skyway, the sunlight looked beautiful reflected on the lake, so she began to hum along with the tune.


spider.jpg

Image by @litguru

This is supposed to be a stand-alone story with a loose over-arching narrative. If you're interested in reading more about the sociobiological adventures of Dr. Emily Swanson, check out the following:

  1. Playing with Fire
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The story is skillfully crafted. If we were spiders it would be NSFW. Fortunately we are a far superior species (!). There is for a moment the suggestion that something sinister might happen, but this apprehension is dispelled quickly. What we have is a male and female human watching with great interest the 'vigorous' mating of a male and female spider.

Her cries guide the male behavior,

On the way home the good doctor recalls the man's deep voice, and his scent. These are

Triggers that released some deep rooted instinct.

There is an obvious parallel between the spiders' instinctive behavior and the woman's instinct, which she dismisses

Martian spider sex and natural selection? Is that how you plan to attract a mate?

Clever, clever story.

We do realize that though this is part of a series, it can stand alone. However, as such, it does not have a strong arc. We would like more of a conclusion. Other than that, the story is outstanding.

Thank you for sharing with us and for actively engaging in the community.

Thank you @theinkwell! I wasn't sure if the tale could be posted in the community, given that no series are allowed. You're right that there is no overarching arc. It's meant to be more science-faction than science-fiction. Unfortunately, I don't know which direction the stories might take, so I'll keep that in mind next time.

Hello my clever friend, @litguru, who likes to test boundaries. Boundaries? What are they?

This is nuanced, measured, calculated to titillate and amuse. Bio-engineered spiders that evolve on their own. I just watched the movie 'Free Guy'...came to mind. Maybe the movie is too unsophisticated for you, but I liked it a lot.

Also, my son sent me the link to an article about jumping spiders and dreaming.

Spiders Seem to Have REM-like Sleep and May Even Dream

As always, your story is topnotch, and unique.

Thank you @agmoore! I have not seen Free Guy, but sounds like my kind of flick. I think scientists are already messing around with artificial biology, so it's just a matter of time in my estimation.

That spider article is wonderful. I cannot even begin to imagine what spider dream about 😳

Coincidentally, they used example of the "zebra" fish, and I just wrote a second part with "zebra" spiders. Coincidence? I think not 😄

I liked the story. After such a long time without reading it whetted my appetite for your story. Martian Spiders how clever and the way you approached the whole story is as well. You knew how to drive them between the boundaries.

Regards.

Thanks @ricardo993! I had fun doing the research for this story. Spiders are weird creatures!

Crafty and entertaining and I love the fact that she swears a lot. She did take the man on a journey toward spider copulation and I find it interesting.

I came across this post on deemport.

She did take the man on a journey toward spider copulation

Excellent way of putting it. 😅

Thank you @balikis95!

😄😄, you are welcome.

Not that such superficial things mattered to her. Or did they?

Of course this is the ultimate issue. Even humans usually select one another on the basis of physical attributes. It’s a primal desire to ensure that their offspring look good. 😆 Haha, not so superficial after all.
Generally, there’s this underlying humour in your work, which I enjoy. 😉
Interesting, unusual and as everyone else points out, clever! 🤗💕❤️

Even humans usually select one another on the basis of physical attributes. It’s a primal desire to ensure that their offspring look good. 😆 Haha, not so superficial after all.

Absolutely. That's why I ensure that my rippling muscles are always well-oiled and tanned Heh! 😁

Oh, my, my, my 🤗

I still wonder how that mind of yours conjures such fascinating stories with well structured plots and defined characters. I really love how you pull me in with your faction and have my mind reeling with multiple possibilities. You are amazing to be honest. Have you ever considered writing a book?

I appreciate this @deraaa! For this particular story, I read up on spider behavior and other aspects of animal research. So, it was a bit more work than usual, but the notes helped elicit ideas.

Thank you for your wonderful and encouraging comment!

The story lures me in, and I have become fascinated with genetically modified spiders.

the female spider is the one who decides whose sperm fertilizes her eggs, and she does so by copulating with as many males as possible.

The ability of the female to choose the sperm to make beautiful babies shows the superiority of the females.

I do pity the male spiders that break off their sexual organs, what happens if the female decides their sperm was not unique and choose another sperm, their sacrifices are over.

I love this story, though you intend it as a stand-alone story, please write a conclusion.

I have become fascinated with genetically modified spiders.

Heh. Just don't get too close to them. :D

The ability of the female to choose the sperm to make beautiful babies shows the superiority of the females.

This is the case in many animals. The female chooses the time and place. The males brings the wine 😄

I do pity the male spiders that break off their sexual organs, what happens if the female decides their sperm was not unique and choose another sperm, their sacrifices are over.

This actually happens in nature. You can read about it in this article.

A male with broken pedipalps is effectively neutered—they never grow back—so why would males perform such acts of self-mutilation if they do not completely prevent copulation by other males? To find out the answer to this question, Uhl and her student Stefan Nessler and colleague Jutta Schneider have been studying mating plug effectiveness in the wasp spider.

Thank you so much @lucieagboola!

Heh. Just don't get too close to them.

I definitely won't 😄😄

This is the case in many animals. The female chooses the time and place. The males brings the wine 😄

I just learn something new today

This actually happens in nature. You can read about it in this article.

Thanks for the article, I will check it out

I enjoyed reading this piece and I will peruse the other link. The way you have let us into the world of spiders mating so crafted into a story is genius. Well done.

Thanks very much @kei2! Spiders are sensuous, and dangerous, creatures. 🕸

I like the parallels between the two "couples" even though they are in different stages of engagement.
And the dialog is nicely drafted, we can feel the tension climbing.

One thing irritates me though: Why does Emily start commenting with "filthy" when it is her goal to study that exact behavior. And judging from later comments she wants to do that, it's not a job she's forced to do.

One thing irritates me though: Why does Emily start commenting with "filthy" when it is her goal to study that exact behavior. And judging from later comments she wants to do that, it's not a job she's forced to do.

She might not be saying 'filthy' in a bad sense, but in an ironic way. Sex used to be considered 'dirty' by large segments of society in the past, so she might be poking fun at societies norms.

I'm glad you caught the parallels between the two species. :)

Thank you for reading and commenting @hannes-stoffel!

Oh, that makes sense. And fits the character. Ok, now it's even better :-)

Just had in idea. Maybe add body language to that sentence.

.... said with a smile while....

I find lots of animal behaviors fascinating, this will prompt me to go read more about spiders sexual life. Every living creature has one or two unique things about them.

I guess Dr. Emily Swanson felt a spark while thinking about the man didn't get a single detail of.

Spiders are fascinating and unique creatures, and thankfully we have a lot of access to information about them.

I guess Dr. Emily Swanson felt a spark while thinking about the man didn't get a single detail of.

And I suspect she knows how to spin a good web :)

sam.jpg

Thank you!

I actually thought it was going to turn into a FATAL ATTRACTION story !LOLZ the only thing that stopped me from believing that was that you had posted in the Ink Well 😂... fascinating faction. I definitely think there is a part 2,3 4,and so on to come... hehe
Well researched, and written with humour and flair... one can't help but see the parallels and imagine the ways in which this may play out! !PIZZA !ALIVE

I actually thought it was going to turn into a FATAL ATTRACTION story

Heh. Spider Attraction? Web of deceit? Weaving desires? Yarns of pleasure? So many possibilities for double-entendre. 😆

I may yet write more. So much fun!

Thank you for dropping by @samsmith1971!

@litguru! You Are Alive so I just staked 0.1 $ALIVE to your account on behalf of @samsmith1971. (6/10)

The tip has been paid for by the We Are Alive Tribe through the earnings on @alive.chat, feel free to swing by our daily chat any time you want.

I'm obsessed with this story. It's well-researched, unique and really creative. Kinda wholesome because it's really good to have someone listen on your passion and interests.

I thought she will act like a spider haha.

Thanks so much @viceroyklayd! This was a fun story to write and research.

I thought she will act like a spider haha.

Dr. Swanson is a peculiar scientist 😄

Defending our natural habitat.🙏👍

I honestly thought he was going to turn into a spider. Love this character. Charming, despite her obsession with spider bits.

I honestly thought he was going to turn into a spider.

Heh. I'm beginning to suspect you're not a fan of spiders. 😆

Hahaha I'm okay with them to be honest, but I know the wierd place your fiction goes...

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