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Scientists Discover Female Insects With “Inflatable,” Spiny Penis

Aren't most penises inflatable, technically? You know what? Probably better just not to think about it.

Blowing up balloons

In the animal kingdom, gender is decided along different rules from just who has what kind of situation going on in their pants, and science has found the first animal that has a penis on the female members of the species instead of the males. The female penis also does a lot more in the way of function than ones you might be more familiar with.

The gender of animals is actually discerned in science by which member of the species has the larger gametes. The ones with the larger gametes, the eggs, are classified as female, and the ones with the smaller ones are classified as male. Until now, the male side of all known species always had the penis, but four new species of cave-dwelling insects in Brazil have switched that around.

According to the research presented in Current Biology, when it’s time for mating, the female uses her penis to extract sex cells from the male. The process can take from 40 to 70 hours, which probably makes most of your sex escapades seem pretty tame. That’s where the inflatable, spiky penis comes in. The female uses it to anchor herself to the male so he doesn’t get bored and go play Xbox while she’s trying to do her thing.

Aside from being an interesting discovery in itself, examining how the female penis evolved in these insects could give hints as to how unique structures like wings come about in the first place as well. Yoshizawa Kazunori, a co-author on the study, told The Verge that, “Usually, a new structure evolves as a modification of a previously existing structure.”

The female penis, though, has no evolutionary precursor that we know of, so it could give clues as to how completely new traits come about. It might also give you nightmares about bees stinging you with tiny spiky penises, so sorry about that.

(via The Verge, image via JoshBerglund19)

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Dan Van Winkle (he) is an editor and manager who has been working in digital media since 2013, first at now-defunct Geekosystem (RIP), and then at The Mary Sue starting in 2014, specializing in gaming, science, and technology. Outside of his professional experience, he has been active in video game modding and development as a hobby for many years. He lives in North Carolina with Lisa Brown (his wife) and Liz Lemon (their dog), both of whom are the best, and you will regret challenging him at Smash Bros.