You probably dismiss Jason Voorhees as just another rampaging psychopath, one with an intense desire to murder nymphomaniac teens. And indeed, the subject’s propensity for pro-abstinence bludgeoning knows no bounds — but were you aware of the science behind his Modus operandi?
Like other North American Slashers of his species, Jason preys on copulating teens because the act of mating provides an irresistible target. But it’s not because the teens in question are naked, intertwined and preoccupied. Nope, it all comes down to the sound of their enthusiastic boning.
As a team of German researchers point out in their 2012 paper “Bats eavesdrop on the sound of copulating flies,” the notion that sex leaves you vulnerable to predation is both old and largely unsupported. Sure, the idea sounds convincing, but even the wider natural world offers few examples of it.
But that’s where the Germans comes in. The team studied houseflies in a cowshed near Marburg, Germany. Here, the flies rarely flew at night and instead crawled around on the ceiling. Often times, they didn’t even move. When they copulated, however, that’s when the bats soared in for the kill.
Normally, the flies are invisible to the bats since background noise prevents their echolocation. But the buzzing of kinky insect lovemaking provide a clear, sonic target. Between 5 and 26 percent of all copulating flies snuffed it this way!
And just to make sure that a fly-with-two-backs doesn’t simply create a larger target for echolocation, the researchers performed another experiment. They mounted dead flies around the barn in tantalizing sex positions to see if the bats noticed the necromantic tableau. They did not. In fact, they only swooped in when the Germans played an audio recording of flies having sex — which I believe is an early Einstürzende Neubauten album.
Will we see similar experiments study the murderous ways of Jason and his ilk? Let’s hope so.
Monster of the Week is a — you guessed it — regular look at the denizens of our monster-haunted world. In some of these, we’ll look at the possible science behind a creature of myth, movie or legend. Other times, we”ll just wax philosophic about the monster’s underlying meaning. After all, the word “monstrosity” originates from the Latin monstrare, which meant to show or illustrate a point.
About the author: Robert Lamb is a senior writer and podcaster at HowStuffWorks.com, where he co-hosts Stuff to Blow Your Mind with Julie Douglas. He has a love for monsters, an aversion to slugs and a hankering for electronic music.