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May 01, 2007

Fear The Pooter: Female Ducks Evolved Labrythine Vaginas To Thwart Rape

You think human vaginas are scary? It gets worse, pal.

Some female ducks and geese have evolved complex genitalia to thwart unwelcome mating attempts, according to a new study.

Males of some species, such as mallard, have a notorious habit of "raping" females. They and other wildfowl are among the 3% of bird species whose males have phalluses big enough to insert into the vaginas of females, whether or not the female consents.

Now, in the most detailed analysis yet of duck and goose vaginas...

Any sentence that starts off like that is a keeper.

... researchers have established that females of these species have evolved vaginal features to thwart unwelcome males.

Tim Birkhead at the University of Sheffield in the UK and colleagues examined vaginas and the corresponding phalluses from 16 wildfowl species. They discovered that the longer and more elaborate the male member, the longer and more elaborate its female recipient was.

Some vaginas had spiral channels that would impede sex by twisting in the opposite direction to that of the male phallus. Others had as many as eight cul-de-sac pouches en route, that could prevent fertilisation by capturing unwelcome sperm....

“These structures are wonderfully devious, sending sperm down the wrong road or impeding penetration,” says Birkhead.

scary-hillary-clinton.jpg
Artist's conception.

He says that the features demonstrate an evolutionary "arms race" in which control over reproduction alternates between the sexes. If the male develops a longer, more elaborate phallus to force copulation, females wrest back control by developing features to thwart males who rape.

“It shows that females are not passive in averting exploitation by males with large phalluses,” says Birkhead.

How true that is. I'm told.

Here's a matched set -- duck vagina on the left, duck penis on the right.

Great. Now I'm envious of ducks, too.

Thanks to the vacationing Allah, who finally got a hit off his longstanding RSS search for "large duck phalluses."



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posted by Ace at 12:36 PM

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