Congress is wading through NSF funded research to weed out projects they consider unworthy. One study they hit upon studies duck penises. The lead author, Patricia Brennan of UMass- Amherst, describes the act of duck procreation:

Male ducks force copulations on females, and males and females are engaged in a genital arms race with surprising consequences. Male ducks have elaborate corkscrew-shaped penises, the length of which correlates with the degree of forced copulation males impose on female ducks. Females are often unable to escape male coercion, but they have evolved vaginal morphology that makes it difficult for males to inseminate females close to the sites of fertilization and sperm storage. Males have counterclockwise spiraling penises, while females have clockwise spiraling vaginas and blind pockets that prevent full eversion of the male penis.

Evolutionary arms races between predator and prey are not unusual. Arms races between males are not unusual – peacock tail effects. But an arms race between males and females of the same species does seem unusual. Males seek to inseminate as many females as possible and have evolved elaborate penises. Females want to choose their mates so they have evolved an elaborate defense mechanism. The mechanism minimizes the chance of egg fertilization if sex is forced. But if the female is a willing partner, insemination is easier.

This research seems quite interesting. It is basic science. No pharmaceutical company is going to fund it. Seems better than funding weapons that the Pentagon does not want.

 

 

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