The Spider Mother That Barfs Up Her Guts to Feed Her Kids

Mothers Day is a time for us to reflect on the sacrifices our mothers made to care for us and give us the best life possible. If you really want to reflect on self-sacrifice, let’s talk about spiders. If you were a female spider of the Stegodyphus lineatus species, you started your life out cannibalizing your mother. And if you live long enough, you’ll end your life dissolving your own organs to feed your children. The spider mates, lays eggs, and then eats as many insects as she can to grow as big as she can. But she stops eating at the point she tears open the egg sac to free her progeny. Her life stops as theirs begins.

It isn’t that she’s just not very hungry, though: Her intestines already have begun dissolving. By the time the eggs hatch, she already has a meal for her young, in the form of a thin, clear liquid dribbling out of her mouth. They gather around and lap it up for two weeks, and indeed, they’re absolutely dependent on her for food, as their mouthparts aren’t yet developed enough to take on prey. The dissolving of their mother’s intestines intensifies, and toward the end her other organs, save for the heart (which she kinda needs, thank you very much), go as well, until most of her abdomen is filled with sludge. 

If you think that’s gross, go to Wired and read the rest of the process by which Stegodyphus lineatus gives her all to her children until she is completely gone and they have grown big enough to catch their own insects. -via Metafilter

(Image credit: Mor Salomon)

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