Male spider mites ‘strip females to jump queue’

And other stories from the stranger side of life

A mite spider
A spider mite
(Image credit: Javier Torrent/VW PICS/Universal Images Group via Getty Images)

Male spider mites peel the moulting skin off newly mature females to make sure they are first in the queue to mate, according to a new study. “Living together in dense colonies can make for fierce competition in finding a mate”, noted CNN, “especially because female spider mites only use the sperm from the first male with which they mate”. Therefore, males have “developed strategies to improve their chances”, it said.

Holiday request written by Chaucer

A 14th century “bureaucratic document requesting time off work for a civil servant” has been confirmed as the only surviving handwriting of Geoffrey Chaucer, reported The Guardian. It was previously assumed that the application was written by a clerk, on behalf of the author. However, now a leading scholar believes that it was actually written by Chaucer himself and submitted by him for King Richard II’s approval. It is “both informal in tone and casual in execution”, said an expert.

Snail racing event is back

A snail racing event, which has finally returned after the Covid pandemic, has been awarded a Guinness World Record as the longest running humane snail-racing world championships, said UPI. The Snail Racing World Championships in Congham, England, features snails attempting to cover a distance of 13 inches, the world record of 22 seconds was set by a snail named Archie in 1995. The first prize in the race is a tankard of lettuce.

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Chas Newkey-Burden has been part of The Week Digital team for more than a decade and a journalist for 25 years, starting out on the irreverent football weekly 90 Minutes, before moving to lifestyle magazines Loaded and Attitude. He was a columnist for The Big Issue and landed a world exclusive with David Beckham that became the weekly magazine’s bestselling issue. He now writes regularly for The Guardian, The Telegraph, The Independent, Metro, FourFourTwo and the i new site. He is also the author of a number of non-fiction books.