The following animals and insects deserve academy awards for their abilities to feign death. The practice, sometimes referred as thanatosis or tonic immobility, seems like a counter-intuitive strategy. After all, wouldn’t feigning death seem to make it easier for predators to catch you? As it turns out, feigning death is very useful as many predators’ appetites are stimulated by the act of killing prey; furthermore, feigning death conveys sickness or disease to an interested predator. But the use of feigning death goes beyond simply fooling predators, as you’ll find out. Read on to learn about feigning death and just how tricky this ability can be.
Male Nursery Web Spiders
For male spiders, sexual cannibalism is a constant danger. This is especially true with male nursery web spiders, as their female mates can quickly go from feeling amorous to predatory. The males, when they’re seeking a mate, will approach a female and offer a nuptial gift: an insect wrapped in webbing. If the female favors the gift and begins to eat, the male will begin to copulate. But if the female dislikes the gift, the male will quickly drop dead to avoid the female’s wrath.
Fire ants are particularly war-like. The older ants (because of their short life expectancy) will take care of the heavy brawling. Younger ants simply flee. The youngest ants, however, feign death because their bodies are so soft and vulnerable. Once the danger has seemingly passed, a baby fire ant will sneak some furtive looks around before resuming its activity.