Thursday, June 6, 2013

10 Strange Animal-Sex Facts

As a biology student, I've run into a lot of strange facts about animals. There are lyre birds that can imitate the sound of a camera, car alarm, and chainsaw. Jellyfish are, in effect, immortal. When caterpillars metamorph into butterflies, they completely liquefy their existing cells and re-build themselves.

But the strange facts I retain the most (perhaps because I'm a naughty, naughty minded lady) are strange animal-sex facts.
Everyone knows animals have sex. They have straight sex, they have (a surprising amount) of gay sex, they have sex to reproduce, and they have sex for fun.
So- enjoy my list of 10 STRANGE ANIMAL-SEX FACTS. In no particular, or sensical order.

1) Elephants have prehensile penises as long as their legs. PREHENSILE. I've seen them in person and it's just as terrifying as you're imagining. (By the way, click that link at the risk of your own mental health.) If you think about it, it makes sense. Once a guy elephant gets up on top of a lady elephant there isn't a whole lot of room for re-adjusting.

2) Speaking of penises, most marsupials have two-pronged penises. Why? Because female marsupials have two vaginal canals and two uteri that connect to one opening (the cloaca). This includes possums, kangaroos and koalas.

3) MORE WEIRD PENISES. Male ducks have counter-clockwise spiraling penises that are (based on this video- again, watch at your own risk) terrifyingly large compared to their body size. They also routinely rape female ducks with this terrifying corkscrew penis.

4) Who wants babies from a rapist-duck-dad? NOT LADY DUCKS.  In order to combat this forced copulation/insemination, female ducks have evolved a clockwise corkscrew vagina and, to quote the scientist doing these studies on duck genitalia, have "blind pockets that prevent full eversion of the male penis" which make it "difficult for males to inseminate females close to the sites of fertilization and sperm storage". In short, rape happens so often in ducks that females have evolved their vaginas to prevent getting pregnant from it.

5) On to something a little more pleasant. Female pigs have a clitoris that's located inside their vagina, which makes it infinitely easier for the boar to please his lady since it's REALLY difficult to do the come-hither finger thing with only two very stubby, unjointed toes.
I kid.
But actually, stimulation of the clitoris (through specially made pig vibrators, or a boar's penis) increases the production of piglets by up to six percent (this TED talk discusses this at around the 10 minute mark, and includes an instructional video).

6) On the topic of pigs, I'm sure you've heard that a pig's orgasm is 30 minutes long, which isn't EXACTLY true. The average, non-assisted, MALE pig's orgasm can last up to 15 minutes, but is usually shorter. However, if someone collecting the semen, um, re-starts the engine, it can in fact last up to 30 minutes. 

7) Finding Nemo was an excellent movie, but they made one mistake- after the mother's death, Marlin should have become, well...Marlena. Mrs. Nemo's parent. 
You see, clownfish have a matriarchal society. One female generally has several males around her, but only one breeds with her. If the female in the group dies, that breeding male becomes a female
Yep, clownfish are trans*.  

8) Bluegill sunfish, on the other hand, are cross-dressers. There are small males that have similar coloring to females, so when they swim near a cluster of eggs a big, manly, male bluegill is trying to fertilize, nobody complains. They then utilize their abnormally large testes and just shoot sperm everywhere, guaranteeing their genes will be passed on in at least a few of the eggs. This strategy is called "The Sneaky Fucker Strategy". Yes, really.

9) You know the standard baby-making process right? Sperm meets egg, egg becomes embryo, eventually there's a baby combining the DNA of both parents, right? Well...there is a hybrid species of salamander that is exclusively female. How do they reproduce, you ask? Well when a male from one of the species of salamanders that hybridized to create the all-female species mates with a female, his sperm basically triggers cell division without contributing DNA. These salamanders clone themselves with sperm.

10) Now, to finish this off with something properly terrifying that could be happening in your bed right now.
No, not you. 
Bedbugs. I'm going to tell you how bedbugs have sex.
So, male bedbugs have, well. Sword penises. And instead of fertilizing the female's eggs through her perfectly functional genital tract, he stabs her with his sword penis and ejaculates into her bloodstream.
The female has a gland specifically designed to capture the sperm and bring it into her reproductive system.
As if that wasn't freaky enough, sometimes bigger male bedbugs do this to other males. Why? Because the next time the smaller male mates with a female, some of the bigger male's sperm gets in there too.

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