more entertainment

since it is saturday night … an excerpt from an essay by william hamilton in “The Natural History of Inbreeding and Outbreeding” (it’s like they wrote it just for me!) [pg. 430]:

“The button beetle [Coccotrypes dactyliperda] is even more of an inbreeder. It not only rests its system on a firm foundation of brother-sister incest, like the ant, but continues to other crimes, at least in the case in which a female happens not to have been fertilized by her brother. On reaching a button of vegetable ivory (made from the seeds of the palm Phytelephas) or, probably more commonly in nature, a date stone, such a virgin first excavates a chamber and then, inside, uses parthenogenesis to produce a brood of four or five males. After a wait for the first male to mature she mates with him, eats him except for the hard thorax and head, eats the other sons similarly, and finally proceeds to further enlargement of the chamber and the laying of eggs for her main brood. This consists of about seventy females sired by the first son and about three more males (Buchner 1961). We see at once that small virgin colonizing arthropods such as Pharaoh’s ant and the button beetle are much more keen to start breeding somehow, come what may, than are horned scarabs or female academics at the opposite extreme of K-selection….”

heh. (^_^)

(note: comments do not require an email. C. dactyliperda.)



  1. I think there’s a sci-fi story in that, IHTG. A horror story if we imagine human society acting more generally like the button beetle, I suppose!


  2. @ihtg – “It makes you wonder what kind of human societies would be produced by parthenogenesis.”

    well, didn’t we have an example of human parthenogenesis a couple thousand years ago? in bethlehem, wasn’t it? maybe that instance would be a good indicator? (~_^)


  3. hbd chick: If you’re a Christian, then Jesus was divine, and I think the button beetle offers little insight.

    Practically speaking, with no dudes, you’d have little advancement, particularly in the technical arena. Once in a while a lonely Marie Curie shows up and gets made fun of for being bad at gossip.

    As for female academics…well, they’d arguably represent the ultimate in K-strategizing, small numbers of offspring one obsesses over. Practically speaking if nerds can reproduce you are going to get a few geek girls.


  4. @sfg – “If you’re a Christian, then Jesus was divine, and I think the button beetle offers little insight.”

    i was jokin’, sfg — thus the little (~_^) face. (~_^)


  5. Sorry, the right-side up emoticons are after my time. :)

    I’d be curious to know if you were mocking the female academics or alluding to yourself–they’re liberal as heck, but you do seem pretty nerdy. I could see it either way.


  6. @sfg – “I’d be curious to know if you were mocking the female academics or alluding to yourself….”

    well, i’m not a female academic myself … what i had more in mind, actually, were high-iq people in general. you know, like the couple from idiocracy. heh. (^_^)


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