It’s almost hump day, so why not? According to study is published in the journal PNAS, some species of marsupials mate so vigorously and intensely that they die from the act of fornication. And I don’t mean la petite mort either.
The antechinus, the phascogale and the dasykaluta are insect-eating marsupials that live in New Guinea, and the males of the species die in large numbers after mating with as many partners as possible in marathon sex sessions lasting up to 14 hours at a time. The males attempt to mate with as many females as possible in long, laborious bouts, driven by high levels of hormones including testosterone, as well as stress hormones.
The females of the species are also highly promiscuous, and have synchronized their reproductive cycles to allow for young to be born at times when food is plentiful. By mating with many males, the females are able to weed out the poor quality males. Successful fertilization increases the odds better offspring survival, and the males dying post-coitally decreases the competition for food. Dr Diana Fisher from the University of Queensland, the lead author of the study, explained:
If we humans get huge stress, we have a feedback system and we bring it down. But the marsupials just keep ramping it up more and more and are driven to spend all their time mating competitively.
I wonder if they die with a smile on their little marsupial faces?