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Evolution. 2001 Jan;55(1):93-102.

Species-specific genitalic copulatory courtship in sepsid flies (Diptera, Sepsidae, Microsepsis) and theories of genitalic evolution.

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  • 1Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and Escuela de BiologĂ­a, Universidad de Costa Rica, Ciudad Universitaria.


Males of Microsepsis eberhardi and M. armillata use their genitalic surstyli to rhythmically squeeze the female's abdomen with stereotyped movements during copulation. Squeezing movements did not begin until intromission had occurred and, contrary to predictions of the conflict-of-interest hypothesis for genitalic evolution, did not overcome morphological or behavioral female resistance. Contrary to predictions of the lock-and-key hypothesis, female morphology was uniform in the two species and could not mechanically exclude the genitalia of either species of male. The complex pattern of squeezing movements differed between the two species as predicted by the sexual selection hypothesis for genitalic evolution. Also, evolutionarily derived muscles and pseudoarticulations in the male's genitalic surstyli facilitated one type of movement, whose patterns were especially distinct. The data support the hypothesis that the male surstyli evolved to function as courtship devices.

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