Can Too Much Sex Be Bad For You? Maybe Yes, For Females (Beetles, That Is)

Ok, so we're talking about beetles here, but a new study has found that sexual conflict between males and females can lead to changes in the shape of their genitals, according to research on burying beetles by scientists at the University of Exeter, as reported by newswise.com.

Genital shape varies enormously across the animal kingdom compared, for instance, to body shape. One reason for this may be that the shapes of male and female genitalia co-evolve as a result of sexual conflict. Dr Megan Head, one of the authors of the new study said: "It takes two to tango, so when changes in shape in one sex leads to corresponding changes in the other sex, this is known as co-evolution."

Sexual conflict over mating occurs because, while having lots of sex is usually good for a male -- as it increases the number of offspring he is likely to produce -- it is not so good for a female because she only needs to mate a few times to fertilize all her eggs. In addition too much sex can be costly for female burying beetles as it reduces their ability to provide parental care.

Figures.

The study also found that changes in one sex were reflected by changes in the shape of the other sex, showing there was co-evolution. The greatest changes in shape occurred in beetles selected for high mating rates, where sexual conflict was greatest: males evolved to have longer organs and females responded by evolving more pronounced 'claws' on their genitalia.


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