May 1, 2007

Does a male bird have a...

... uh, probably not. 97% don't. Oh, but those ducks...
The champion phallus from this Meller’s duck is a long, spiraling tentacle. Some ducks grow phalluses as long as their entire body. In the fall, the genitalia will disappear, only to reappear next spring....

Most of the time it remains invisible, curled up inside a bird’s body. During mating, however, it fills with lymphatic fluid and expands into a long, corkscrew shape. The bird’s sperm travels on the outside of the phallus, along a spiral-shaped groove, into the female bird.
Okay, now, why does the NYT have a big story about a post-doc whose research is measuring duck dicks? Score one big point if you guessed that her theory has to do with the superiority of the female:
Species with more forced mating tend to have longer phalluses. That link led some scientists to argue that the duck phallus was the result of males’ competing with one another to fertilize eggs....

Dr. [Patricia] Brennan realized that scientists had made this argument without looking at the female birds.....

Working with Kevin McCracken of the University of Alaska and his colleagues, she caught and dissected 16 species of ducks and geese, comparing the male and female anatomy.

If a male bird had a long phallus, the female tended to have a more elaborate lower oviduct. And if the male had a small phallus, the female tended to have a simple oviduct....

Dr. McCracken... is struck by the fact that it was a woman who discovered the complexity of female birds. “Maybe it’s the male bias we all have,” he said. “It’s just been out there, waiting to be discovered.”
This is not a duck phallus:



It's a duck oviduct.

11 comments:

Karl said...

“The correlation was incredibly tight,” Dr. Brennan said.

No comment.

-kd

Tom said...

“Obviously you can’t have something like that without some place to put it in. You need a garage to park the car.”

Karl said...

We know Ann does not care for sports metaphors, but I'm not sure if she's come out for or against automotive entendre.

-kd

hdhouse said...

Some bad drivers can only park in the street while others can parallel park and still others can park in a New York garage where the doors can barely be opened.

I think there is a metaphor in there somewhere.

joewxman said...

"Species with more forced mating tend to have longer phalluses"

A perfect explaination for Italians!

AllenS said...

Oh, no!

If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck, has a **** like a duck...

Mike said...

I think you posted this just so you could use the phrase "duck dicks".

Mortimer Brezny said...

I like the part of the article where she says she hasn't proven any of it yet, all she has is the correlations. In other words, the old theory didn't take into account the correlations, but her hypothesis, which led to discovering the correlations, doesn't necessarily describe accurately the process by which the correlations came to be. So there is probably another theory that explains the correlations that no scientist has thought of yet. Hopefully that theory won't be inspired by bias of any kind.

Peter Palladas said...

In the fall, the genitalia will disappear, only to reappear next spring....

....and I thought it was just me.

Theo Boehm said...

"Dr. Brennan was oblivious to bird phalluses until 1999."

Will someone please draw a New Yorker cartoon with that caption?

David53 said...

Species with more forced mating tend to have longer phalluses.

So would this suggest that those species with shorter phalluses enjoy sex more?

and

How will global warming affect duck sex?