Dinner and a Date with a Twist

Organisms lie, exaggerate, and scam their way to food, to territory and to sex. In one species of firefly, females can dine on the males of another species if they send a phony mating signal. The duped male becomes dinner rather than a date. Because of this threat, males will approach females with caution. Sometimes the deceptive females win, and sometimes the endangered males avoid the trap. As a consequence, the best liars among the females will get the most dinners, and the males that survive to pass on their genes are the ones that either never encounter the larger females or figure out the ruse.

The large females eat the males to gain protection as well as food. The conserve the toxins in the body of the male. This bonus deters their predators.

Fireflies, (a.k.a. lightning bugs) are actually beetles of the family Lampyridae. Although one of the best known bio-luminescent organisms, they are far from the only ones. Another animal with a natural flashlight is the female angler fish. Female anglers use their bio-luminescent lures to attract food. Males do not engage in this behaviour because they do not feed. They attach to a female and become part of her body and degenerate to little more than a bag of sperm.

Learn more about the art of lying in the natural world. Buy The Wisdom of Loki on Amazon at

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