Friday, June 21, 2024

Prehensile Penises, The Return

We've talked before about the impressive (and unsettlingly aggressive) penis of dolphins before, but as this remains our MOST POPULAR BLOG POST we figured we could kindly let you know that there are other animals that have prehensile penises that we didn't talk about but would like to now. For example, barnacles!

Barnacles have the longest penis-to-body ratio of any animal, coming in at an impressive 8 times their body length. They do this because they're lazy. Well, okay, they're 'adapted to live a sessile and unmoving life attached to the substrate' but it's the same thing. So as a result, if they want to reproduce they may have to reach pretty distant targets as they can't exactly scootch closer. Longer dicks mean they can reach more barnacles. 


Turns out longer isn't always better. It works great if you're in relatively calm waters and your schlong isn't likely to get ripped off by waves, but not so great in tidal zones. But because we can't just go 'huh' and leave well enough alone, some researchers decided to test this hypothesis. They took some barnacle genitals from different ecosystems and did a literal dick measuring competition about it. 

That's weird enough, until you start considering the classic arguments in such a competition - primarily, the issue of growers versus showers.

Leaving nothing up to chance, these researchers decided to only measure erect barnacle dicks. How? Oh, they cut them off and inflated them with a hypodermic needle. You know, like a tiny one-dimensional balloon animal.

Anyhow, they were right. Barnacle dicks were thicker and shorter in stronger currents to avoid being snapped off  in freak accidents.

Want to read the research of these dedicated perverts? Conveniently, one does have the last name Palmer, and their paper is open access and available to all to admire! They also did find that barnacles are showers, and technically future researchers don't really need to inflate them to understand penis length. Good to know, though we're sure some ambitious scientists find that fact disappointing. 

And if you want to know more about prehensile penises and specifically those of dolphins and whales, check out episode 202 of our podcast Weird & Dead, up already on Patreon and airing for everyone else wherever you get your podcasts on July 3rd!

Neufeld, Christopher J., and A. Richard Palmer. "Precisely proportioned: intertidal barnacles alter penis form to suit coastal wave action." Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences 275.1638 (2008): 1081-108

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