A first date, even if it fizzles, can make a big difference to a wolf spider.
If an almost-grown-up female's last impression of a suitor is his sexy leg-waving display, she won't mate with him just then, but she'll grow up with a preference for males like him, says Eileen Hebets, of the University of California, Berkeley. Also, that female spider as an adult will prove less likely to eat males with her original pursuer's looks than with other male spiders, Hebets reports in an upcoming Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS).
What shapes mating preferences matters because these forces end up shaping a species' traits and evolutionary changes. The previewing of courtship "is potentially a new way females develop preferences that we h