There is scarce information on the evolution of this behavior. Most studies on this topic focus on the adaptive value and underlying mechanistic aspects of sexual cannibalistic behavior.

Sexual cannibalism is commonly presented as an explanation for the evolution of complex mating and courtship behaviors. However, the main expert on this topic, Mark A. Elgar, proposes that contrary to this explanation, this behavior seems to be an extreme demonstration of conflicts of interests between the sexes. 

Phylogenetic Characteristics of Sexual Cannibalism Across Class

Sexual cannibalism has been observed mostly among invertebrates, including

    *gastropods (e.g. snails and slugs)

    *copepods (tiny crustaceans, cousins of crayfish and daphnia)


    *many species of arachnids


Myth busting! Not All Female Mantids Eat Their Mates

Contrary to popular belief, sexual cannibalism is not common in mantids. In fact, the behavior is more commonly observed in arachnids, namely spiders and scorpions.

Correlation of sexual cannibalism and visual ability

The behavior has also been commonly observed in highly visual species. For example, sexual cannibalism has been found in jumping spiders that have multiple eyes and rely almost exclusively on visual cues to perform courtship behaviors.

Female copulatory choice

Females control copulation through sexual cannibalism. The mechanism of self mutilation evolved in males most likely in response to sexual cannibalism and female controlled short copulation duration.