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3-2-1? Simultaneous mating…

Jokingly, I was recently asked if any animals mate with two partners at the same time. At the time, I just laughed it off, but later it got me thinking; countless species of animals mate simultaneously.

Good examples include goldfish when the female’s eggs are fertilised by multiple males as they are released by the female and frogs are also often found in huddles, with multiple males jostling for a chance to fertilise eggs.

I even remember a brilliant documentary by Sir David Attenborough, where a cuttlefish female mated with two males within a short space of time, in order to get a varied range of genes for her offspring, all in the aim to better their chances of survival.

Yet, all these instances are of back to back matings and are not the same as an internally fertilising species mating with two or more partners at the same time.

Yet as I was searching the internet, I remembered reading something along these lines in an old magazine and after a thorough search through layers of dusty wildlife magazines in the loft, I finally found the copy I was thinking off. Sure enough, there was the answer and for those of you still holding your breath; it turns out that there is one species, the North American dotted wolf spider.

It has come about as a counter to the female’s cannibalistic tendencies. Instead of facing the female, some males will hide out of view, while other larger males will subdue the female. Once she is down and the first male is mating, the second one will rush forward and attempt to mate.

This freaky, twenty four legged threesome really shows us the breadth of nature’s strategies to survive and reproduce successfully.

*photo is not the actual north america dotted wolf spider*

Alexander S. Howson

Alexander S. Howson is a naturalist and nature writer.

Along with a heavy interest in Aquatics, birds and ecology. Alexander now directs a large deal of energy attempting to re-educate the public about aquatics and promoting the conservation of a range of wildlife species.

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