This is a story that many females can relate with. You are hanging out with your girlfriends, then out of the blues emerges this man, so determined to get your attention. He buys you one or two drinks and of course you take them. But accepting the offer isn’t an indication you want to be with him, yet this is something many males are yet to understand. So he persistently insists on getting your contacts. What do you under such a situation? Would you fall down and fake death? Certainly, that’s something inconceivable.
If you can’t, trust me someone out there can do so – at least a dragonfly has set the basis for that. The female dragonflies when pushed beyond the limits by aggressive male suitors fake death to discourage them. The process is well coordinated: they first plummet to the ground, spasm around for some few minutes and then pretend to be dead.
“Desperate times call for desperate measures,” writes Rassim Khelifa – an entomologist from the University of Zurich with a penchant for the hovering critters. To him, this is the best sexual conflict resolution mechanism.
He recounted a tale in which he first encountered the unusual behavior in 2015. In his case, there was a male moorland hawker dragonfly chasing after a female for quite a long time. All of a sudden, the female made quite unprecedented move – hit the ground and remained there immobile.
The male then went down and flew around the female for sometime before giving up. Khelifa then thought the female had died due to the hard crash but to his surprise, she flew away as he approached it.
This is the time he began asking himself questions such as whether she had just played a trick on the male. Was the trick meant to avoid sexual harassment?
He spent the proceeding 72 hours looking at other similar incidences, 27 of them. Out of these, 21 worked out exactly as the first one, arriving to conclusion that this happens only in places that are saturated with dragonflies and the competition for females is tough.
Other Animals do it also!
The idea of faking death is one common incident amongst other animals but in most cases it’s a way of avoiding predators.
Having noted such a behavior, dragonflies could as well be “the fifth in the animal kingdom after a nuptial gift-giving spider, two species of robber fly, and a European mantis” that fakes death in order to escape harassment,” says Khelifa.
But this may be a peculiar behavior among the human female. Faking such a death may be effective for a short while but then cause commotion amongst passersby.