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Genital damage, kicking and early death

The battle of the sexes takes a sinister turn in the bean weevil.


Because the costs and benefits of polygamy differ for males and females, copulation is not always a cooperative venture between the sexes1. Sperm competition2 can build on this asymmetry, producing male traits that harm females3,4 thereby generating coevolutionary arms races between the sexes5. We have found that the male genitalia of the bean weevil Callosobruchus maculatus damage the female genitalia, and that females act to reduce the extent of this damage. We propose that these functionally diametric sexual traits form the basis of reproductive conflict.

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Figure 1: Scanning electron micrograph of the male bean weevil's intromittent organ showing the arrangement of sclerotized spines on the tip.
Figure 2: The anatomy of reproduction in Callosobruchus maculatus.


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Correspondence to Mike T. Siva-Jothy.

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Crudgington, H., Siva-Jothy, M. Genital damage, kicking and early death. Nature 407, 855–856 (2000).

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