Glandular Gifts; Battle of the Sexes; Exclusive Online Issues; by Darryl T. Gwynne; 3 Page(s)
In 1859, the year evolutionary theory burst onto the scene with the publication of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species, Captain John Feilner of the U.S. Cavalry was exploring northern California. He was eventually killed by Indians, but not before he had reported to the Smithsonian Institution his observations on the habits of grasshoppers. After the mating act, he noted, "a small bag--evidently the ovary--is attached to the body of the female close to the tail."
Almost half a century later, across the globe in France, pioneer ethologist Jean Henri Fabre filled in the details of this curious copulation. In The Life of the Grasshopper, a volume devoted to orthopteran insects in his Entomological Memories (Souvenirs entomologiques), Fabre correctly identified the bag as originating from the male. He wrote that an opalescent structure "similar in size and color to a mistletoe berry" was attached to the spermatophore, a separate sperm-filled package, and eaten by the female in a "final banquet" culminating the mating sequence.