Dec
23
2009

Freudian Nightmare Wednesday: Duck Genitals!

Better safe than sorry, eh?: Modified from the original for decency's sake.
Better safe than sorry, eh?: Modified from the original for decency's sake.Courtesy BaylorBear78
My psychological jargon might be a little mixed up, but Freud was the one who would deteriorate into fits of frightened giggling at any mention of sex organs, right? If so, this research is totally Freudian.

(I’m pretty sure Freud died of an aneurysm while watching a butcher make sausage links. So yeah, kids, I think you’re safe using this as a resource for your 10th grade psych class.)

Here’s the rub, as it were: duck penises are off the hook! And not just duck penises, duck vaginas too! Despite the questionable wardrobe choices of certain popular cartoon characters, I’ve never seen a duck’s penis. But I suppose that the hunters and duck enthusiasts among you might already know that ducks, unlike most birds, have penises, and that said penises are about 8 inches long and remarkably flexible. The reason we aren’t constantly being assaulted by the sight of duck genitals is that they usually keep the organs tucked inside their bodies. When the need arises, the appendages can be extended, or "everted," in less than a second, an act described (not by me) as “explosive.”

Here’s some footage of it happening. Be warned, though—it’s not for the more sensitive among you.

But, okay, so duck penises are crazy. What about the rest?

Well, ducks have crazy penises because it gives them an advantage in “forced mating.” But if male ducks could evolve a feature that increases their chances of a successful forced mating, mused some researchers at Yale, couldn’t female ducks evolve penis-confounding features that would protect them from unwanted attempts at mating?

Duck penises, it turns out, are somewhat corkscrew-shaped. The researchers tested their ability to evert into a set of glass tubes of varying shapes. They found that eversion was quickly and easily done in straight tubes, and tubes that spiraled counter-clockwise. A tube spiraled clockwise, however, or one with a sharp bend in it, could stop eversion altogether. It turns out that duck vaginas have evolved structures like the second set of glass tubes, with the purpose of thwarting wandering duck penises.

How strange. Apparently it’s one of the rare occasions when the evolutionary consequences of the battle of the sexes are so “dramatic.” Dramatic and bizarre.

Now pick yourself up and continue on with your day. That wasn’t so bad, was it? And now you have something to talk about at your family holiday party!

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