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Why Bird Penises Are So Weird

170 Views· 02/23/23
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Thanks to 23andMe for sponsoring this video! https://www.23andme.com/minuteearth

Male birds have the largest genital diversity of any class of animals because their sex chromosomes make it easy to pass male-helping mutations down the line.

Thanks also to our supporters on https://www.patreon.com/MinuteEarth

To learn more, start your googling with these keywords:
Sex chromosome: A chromosome involved in determining the sex of an individual.
Cloaca: A posterior orifice that serves as the only exit for the gastrointestinal, urinary and genital tracts.
Mutation: An alteration in the DNA sequence that makes up a gene.
Sexually-selected Trait: A trait based on a mutation that confers a reproductive advantage.
BMP4: A protein whose presence halts the growth of bird penises in the egg.

If you liked this week’s video, you might also like:
An article from The Week about some of the strangest penises in the animal kingdom: http://theweek.com/articles/47....4417/12-weirdest-ani

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Credits (and Twitter handles):
Script Writer: David Goldenberg (@dgoldenberg)
Script Editor: Kate Yoshida (@KateYoshida)
Video Illustrator: Ever Salazar (@eversalazar)
Video Director: Emily Elert (@eelert)
Video Narrator: Emily Elert (@eelert)
With Contributions From: Henry Reich, Alex Reich, Peter Reich
Music by: Nathaniel Schroeder: http://www.soundcloud.com/drschroeder



Brennan, P. and Prum, R. (2015). Mechanisms and Evidence of Genital Coevolution: The Roles of Natural Selection,Mate Choice, and Sexual Conflict. 1-21. Cold Spring Harbor Perspectives in Biology. Retrieved from: http://cshperspectives.cshlp.o....rg/content/7/7/a0177

Brennan, P. (2013). Genital Evolution: Cock-a-Doodle-Don’t. Current Biology. R523-R525. Retrieved from: http://www.sciencedirect.com/s....cience/article/pii/S

Brennan, P., Birkhead, T., Zyskowski, K., van der Waagand, J., and Prum, R. (2008). Independent evolutionary reductions of the phallus in basal birds. Journal of Avian Biology, 39: 487-492. Retrieved from: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com..../doi/10.1111/j.0908-

Briskie, J. and Montgomerie, R. (1997). Sexual selection and the intromittent organ of birds. Journal of Avian Biology. 28: 73-86. Retrieved from: https://www.jstor.org/stable/3....677097?seq=1#page_sc

Herrera, A., Brennan, P., and Cohn, M. (2014). Development of Avian External Genitalia: Interspecific Differences and Sexual Differentiation of the Male and Female Phallus. Sexual Development. 9: 43-52. Retrieved from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25011524.

Reinhold, K. (1998). Sex linkage among genes controlling sexually selected traits. Sexual Selection. 44:1-7. Retrieved from: https://link.springer.com/arti....cle/10.1007/s0026500

Image Credits:

Mandarin Ducks - Francis C. Franklin

Gorillas - Based on photo by Wikimedia user No escape

Lake Duck Penis - Kevin McCracken (Published in Nature 2001)

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