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Author Topic: Barnacles can make penises bigger  (Read 5416 times)

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Barnacles can make penises bigger
« on: 14/02/2008 19:15:15 »
Before all you men run out to start buying barnacles, it refers to their own penises.

In the peculiar world of barnacle sex, shape matters just as much as size.

To cope with changing tides and a sedentary lifestyle, the gnarly crustaceans have evolved penises that are eight times the length of their bodies—the longest relative to body size of any animal.

Now new research reveals that the creatures' lengthy members can also change shape to suit their environment.

Barnacles living in gentle waters have long, thin penises best equipped for maximum reach, the study found.

But those animals living in rough waters have shorter, stouter penises that are better able to withstand strong waves.

The findings suggest an animal's environment can sculpt its genitals as thoroughly as female choice or competition between males.

"It's just an example that says, Look, there's other things that can also be important for shaping the evolution of genitalia," said study co-author Christopher Neufeld of the University of Alberta, Canada.

Neufeld and colleague Richard Palmer describe the work online this month in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B.

Penis Pump

Despite being hermaphrodites that have both male and female genitalia, barnacles prefer to mate with other individuals whenever possible.

But as one of the few immobile species to use direct insemination, barnacles face some unique challenges.

Their penises have to be long enough to find and inseminate distant neighbors, but not so long that they flop around uselessly in strong waves.

Previous work by Palmer's lab had shown that barnacles can change the shape and size of the feathery leg-like appendages they use to catch food depending on wave conditions.

To find out if barnacles also have shape-shifting penises, Neufeld and Palmer compared the penises of white acorn barnacles collected from rough waters against those taken from in protected harbors.

But barnacle penises are retractable and are not always easy to observe.

"It's hard to get barnacles to extend their penises on demand in the lab," Neufeld said.

So the team artificially inflated the barnacles' genitalia with seawater using a custom-made penis pump built out of tubes and hypodermic syringes.

Surprisingly Pliable

The researchers also transplanted barnacles living in gentle waters to rough waters and vice versa, to make sure the penis variations they observed were a result of the environment and not due to genetic differences.

The results showed that barnacles could indeed change the width and length of their penises to suit the wave conditions of their new homes.

Heather Proctor, a biologist at the University of Alberta who was not involved in the study, said she was astonished by how pliable barnacles penises are.

"That runs rather counter to what we know about other arthropod copulatory apparatuses," Proctor said.

The body size of land arthropods such as insects and spiders might vary a lot within a species, but their genitalia tend to remain more or less constant.

"These terrestrial arthropods are trying really hard to keep their genitalia exactly the same size," Proctor said.

"So it's really neat to see that this aquatic arthropod is so flexible in the morphology of its penis."


(from National Geographic http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/02/080213-barnacle-penis.html)


 

Offline Vcoolspice

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Barnacles can make penises bigger
« Reply #1 on: 14/02/2008 19:48:28 »
Truely interesting. . .
 

Offline opus

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Barnacles can make penises bigger
« Reply #2 on: 14/02/2008 21:46:19 »
Is that why 'Barnacle Bill the sailor' is called that....?
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Barnacles can make penises bigger
« Reply #3 on: 14/02/2008 23:53:50 »
Is that why 'Barnacle Bill the sailor' is called that....?

 

Offline turnipsock

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Barnacles can make penises bigger
« Reply #4 on: 15/02/2008 00:04:37 »
I think I would do better in the rough water.
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Barnacles can make penises bigger
« Reply #5 on: 15/02/2008 00:05:30 »
I think I would do better in the rough water.

I'd be dragging weed!  [^]
 

Offline JimBob

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Barnacles can make penises bigger
« Reply #6 on: 15/02/2008 00:20:19 »
Sure, sure, sure

 

Offline opus

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Barnacles can make penises bigger
« Reply #7 on: 15/02/2008 22:36:42 »
I'm sure the person who keeps e-mailing me  with such gems as 'how to get a real hosepipe in my trousers ' would be very interested in all this. Barnacles on Viagra.....imagine that!
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Barnacles can make penises bigger
« Reply #8 on: 16/02/2008 08:16:53 »
Don't swallow Viagra slowly or you'll get a stiff neck.
 

Offline opus

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Barnacles can make penises bigger
« Reply #9 on: 16/02/2008 21:58:24 »
Tee hee! If you chew it do you get premature mastication?
 

Offline turnipsock

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Barnacles can make penises bigger
« Reply #10 on: 16/02/2008 22:35:58 »
I've never tried Viagra, I wonder if you can get it onthe internet somewhere?
 

Offline DoctorBeaver

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Barnacles can make penises bigger
« Reply #11 on: 17/02/2008 00:38:33 »
I've never tried Viagra, I wonder if you can get it onthe internet somewhere?

I very much doubt it  ::)
 

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Barnacles can make penises bigger
« Reply #11 on: 17/02/2008 00:38:33 »

 

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