Spiderlings’ first meal is their mother’s last
Spiders don’t have a reputation for being the most dedicated parents, but Stegodyphus lineatus mothers may take the cake. Sure, mammals dedicate huge portions of their own calories to their children in their milk. Octopuses will starve to death guarding their eggs for over 4 years, but this spider combines all that, turning her own body into her children’s first meal.
Eat something, will you?
When the babies are ready to hatch, the mother spider will help break open the protective silk pouch their eggs are in. She’ll then stay by their side from then on, never leaving to find more food for herself. Instead, she starts feeding her young a predigested slurry of her own last meals, plus some of her own digestive tract that has also been liquefied. The baby spiders will eat this way, swarming over their mother for the first two weeks of their life.
You’re wasting away!
While this regurgitation process can consume up to 41% of the mother’s body mass, that’s not where the babies stop. The mother will stay in place, even making mild motions to defend here young if disturbed. Eventually, all of the mother’s organs are dissolved and excreted, heart last, for the nutritional benefit of her offspring.
At least mom dies knowing the kids aren’t filling up on junk food.
Source: When mom serves herself as dinner by Susan Milius, ScienceNews