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At The Scientist: Why, contra Darwin, do male snakes eat female snakes?

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Presumably because they didn’t study Darwinism at school. Then they would know it’s supposed to be the other way around (and only after mating).

Okay, seriously, that behavior is noted among Montpellier snakes and evolutionary biologists need to come up with explanations:

TS: What is shocking or counterintuitive about these instances of cannibalism in the Montpellier snakes that you reported on? XG: Most of us biologists think that an adult male feeding on an adult female is kind of counterintuitive. I think it probably comes from the fact that the old paradigm was that generally a male would try to mate with as many females as he can to just increase his fitness. The males typically do not take care of the offspring. He is not the one that’s being pregnant. So, for him it would pay off to actually try to mate with every single female he encountered. . . . But recently, in the last few decades, the paradigm has been shifting, if you will, just because we realize that males—they can also be choosy in some ways about the females they mate with.

At first you think it is counterintuitive. And then when we wrote the paper, we just realized [that] in fact there may be many reasons for a male to eat a female. And that could be adaptive—in other words, it could actually benefit the male’s fitness to do that. We do highlight a few of those reasons that we think could potentially explain [these observations].

Chloe Tenn, “Male Snakes Cannibalizing Females Present Evolutionary Puzzle” at The Scientist (November 15, 2021)

It turns out that Darwinism can (sort of) explain anything. Even eating the bride before the honeymoon.

The paper is closed access.

You may also wish to read: Can sex explain evolution?

11 Replies to “At The Scientist: Why, contra Darwin, do male snakes eat female snakes?

  1. 1
    Joe Schooner says:

    Eating a pregnant female would increase fitness, as long as the male wasn’t the father.

  2. 2
    Querius says:

    Survival of the fittest–the female snake has obviously fallen behind the male in this case and is now busy evolving to catch up with the male snake, hopefully to surpass the male and be able to eat him instead. Plus the male snake now likely eats any less-fit offspring as well.

    And most other animals have obviously evolved to NOT eat their pregnant females for the same exact reason.

    Isn’t Darwinism amazing for its flexibility and explanatory powers?!

    -Q

  3. 3
    martin_r says:

    And here we go again

    it probably comes from the fact that the old paradigm …

    …But recently, in the last few decades, the paradigm has been shifting,

    Darwinists are always wrong…

  4. 4
    martin_r says:

    Querius,

    Indeed…Darwinism is amazing :)))))))) it is a very flexible always adapting religion….

    Matti Leisola and his Heretic book:

    “Evolution is slow and gradual except when it is fast. It is dynamic and creates huge changes over time, except when it keeps everything the same for millions of years. It explains both extreme complexity and elegant simplicity. It tells us how birds learned to fly and yet also lost that ability. Evolution made cheetahs fast and turtles slow. Some creatures it made big and others small; some gloriously beautiful and others boringly grey. It forced fish to walk and walking animals to return to the sea. It diverges except when it converges; it produces exquisitely fine-tuned designs except when it produces junk. Evolution is random and without direction except when it moves toward a target. Life under evolution is a cruel battlefield except when it displays altruism. Evolution explains virtues and vice, love and hate, religion and atheism. And it does all this with a growing number of ancillary hypotheses. Modern evolutionary theory is the Rube Goldberg of theoretical constructs. And what is the result of all this speculative ingenuity? Like the defunct theory of phlogiston, it explains everything while explaining nothing well” (p. 199).

  5. 5
    Belfast says:

    Joe Schooner, “Eating a pregnant female would increase fitness, as long as the male wasn’t the father.”
    That makes sense to you, does it?

  6. 6
    Joe Schooner says:

    That makes sense to you, does it?

    Just think about it.

  7. 7
    Belfast says:

    @Joe Schooner @6.
    I’ll take that for a ‘Yes’.

  8. 8
    Querius says:

    Martin_r @4,
    Exactly! I love it! Darwinism is the intellectual equivalent of Silly Putty when it flows around and conforms to any object that it’s placed on.

    Silly Putty is also fun and bouncy, but I’m not sure whether Darwinism does that . . . except maybe with Punctuated Equilibria. Heh.

    -Q

  9. 9
    martin_r says:

    Belfast,

    Eating a pregnant female would increase fitness, as long as the male wasn’t the father.

    i think, that Joe Schooner is comparing this situation to the one with lions, where male lion kills other lion’s puppies to force lion female to mate again – with him – so new lion puppies are born with his genes …

    Now the question is, whether mentioned snake really kills pregnant female snake where the father is some other male snake … (or whether it is only Joe’s / Darwinists wishful thinking)

  10. 10
    martin_r says:

    Querius @8

    i think, that Silly Putty is a good comparison, i would also like to add, when some new, unexpected circumstances/findings occur (which is pretty common in Darwinism), a new type of Silly Putty is invented right away (e.g. a more stretchy one … )

  11. 11

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