The horror and the wonder of mayfly birth


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Beautiful in a way, but strangely melancholy too…

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At least they hatch after being laid, and don’t break out chest-burster style.


The name for the group, Ephemeroptera (ephemeral wings), captures that feeling for me. I’ve always found it one of the most evocative of scientific names.

Almost all hatched before she’d finished laying. Amazing.

Of course she dies, all those eggs inside her didn’t leave any room for guts. It is a wonderful, terrible thing.

For animals, death after giving birth is not as rare as one would hope.

It isn’t even restricted to the arthropods. Male octopuses mate and die, and females lay eggs, stop eating and then live only long enough to watch them hatch (possibly 10 months) protecting them the whole time.

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