love and death

Loving to Death

Photo: Fisher/Dickman/Splash

This is the sad tale of the male antechinus: a desperate, lusty animal who — through some quirk of evolutionary biology — has sex until it dies. In a Tantric, chaotic, orgiastic mess, the males of this teeny marsupial species procreate away. They renounce eating, drinking, sleeping, and acknowledging that their immune systems are failing. Then these little hedgehog-like fuckers pass away, hoping that their juniors will live to follow in their footsteps.

This type of mating process is referred to as suicidal reproduction, or semelparity. It’s a method that’s rare for mammal species, and usually found among plants and insects. 

Scientists believe it could be an evolutionary adaptation for making the most of the female’s short mating season, or a means of alleviating pressure on scarce resources. Alternatively, it could just be an idiosyncrasy of their breeding rituals — no higher purpose, just tragedy, depravity, and a painful death. Isn’t it luxurious and civilized that humans have decades upon decades to figure out whether that sort of nihilism is their bag?

Loving to Death