Tidarren argo sp. nov. (Araneae: Theridiidae) and its exceptional copulatory behaviour: emasculation, male palpal organ as a mating plug and sexual cannibalism



Tidarren argo sp. nov. is described from Yemen. As in its congeners, the male amputates one of his palps before maturation and enters his adult life with one palp only. The new species is shown to adopt exceptional copulatory behaviour. As soon as the male achieves genitalia coupling with his palp, the palp is torn off by the female. The separated gonopod remains attached to the female's epigynum for c. 4 h and apparently continues to function independently. Furthermore, it serves as a mating plug. In the meantime the female feeds on the palpless male. Emasculation synchronizes sexual cannibalism and sperm transfer, and may lengthen the interval between copulations. This unique mating behaviour probably allows continuation of insemination by the dismembered palp and is reported for the first time.