The Lost Penis Enigma
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Because there are so many different types of penises among our evolutionary relatives, we didn’t know until a recent discovery whether they all had the same origin.
To learn more about this topic, start your googling with these keywords:
- Amniote: Vertebrates whose embryos are enclosed in a thin sac.
- Cloaca: A posterior orifice used for excretion and reproduction.
- Cloacal Kiss: A method that penisless amniotes use to mate, which involves males and females momentarily pressing their cloacae together.
- Tuatara: Reptiles endemic to New Zealand that are the only surviving members of their ancient amniote group.
- Hemipenis: One of the paired copulatory organs of lizards and snakes.
- Bmp4: A protein that, when present, stifles the growth of penises in chick embryos.
- Convergent Evolution: The independent evolution of similar features in different species.
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Gans, Carl, James C. Gillingham, and David Lang Clark. 1984. “Courtship, Mating and Male Combat in Tuatara, Sphenodon punctatus.” Journal of Herpetology 18 (2): 194–97. Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.2307/1563749.
Sanger, Thomas J., Marissa L. Gredler, and Martin J. Cohn. 2015. “Resurrecting Embryos of the Tuatara, Sphenodon punctatus, to Resolve Vertebrate Phallus Evolution.” Biology Letters 11 (10): pii: 20150694. REtreieved from: https://doi.org/10.1098/rsbl.2015.0694.
Herrera, Ana María, Simone G. Shuster, Claire L. Perriton, and Martin J. Cohn. 2013. “Developmental Basis of Phallus Reduction During Bird Evolution.” Current Biology 23 (12): 1065–74. Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2013.04.062.
Brennan, Patricia L. R. 2016a. “Evolution: One Penis After All.” Current Biology 26: R29–R31. Retrieved from: https://doi.org/10.1016/j.cub.2015.11.024.
Willingham, Emily. 2020. Fallacy: Life Lessons from the Animal Penis. Avery. Retrieved from: https://www.amazon.com/Phallac....y-Life-Lessons-Anima