Snakes have a clitoris: scientists beat ‘massive female genital taboo’ | snakes

Female snakes have clitoris, the first time scientists have detailed the animal’s genitals in a study.

In a study criticizing the relatively limited research on female sex organs, scientists say previous research has mistaken the organs as scent glands or underdeveloped versions of penises.

In a study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society BThe researchers found that the snakes have two distinct clitoris—the hemicletorus—separated by tissue and hidden by the skin on the underside of the tail.

“The female genitalia is blatantly overlooked compared to its male counterparts, limiting our understanding of sexual reproduction among vertebrate lineages,” the study’s authors wrote.

Male snakes and lizards are known to have hemipenes, a pair of penises that stick out of the body during breeding. In many species, the hemipenes are covered with spines or hooks.

Megan Folwell, lead author of the study and a doctoral student at the University of Adelaide, said “a major taboo around the female genitalia” was a potential factor in the previous lack of identification of snake clitoris. “I think it’s a combination of not knowing what to look for and not wanting to,” she said.

hemiliterators of a death adder
A dissection showing the hemicillors of a death adder. Photo: La Trobe University

“Trying to find it isn’t always the easiest thing — some are extremely small,” Folwell said. Said. He first dissected the clitoris in a death adder, where the organ formed a “heart-like” triangular shape.

“I was lucky that the death adder had a fairly prominent hemiclytor,” Folwell said.

The study suggests that in snakes, the sex organs “have a functional importance in mating.” While more research into snake behavior is needed, Folwell said, the team found that hemicultors “could provide some kind of warning signal for vaginal relaxation and lubrication, a type of stimulation during mating that would potentially help the female avoid damage from these large hemipene hooks and spines during mating,” Folwell said. “He said he was theorizing. .

“It may also be signaling the ovaries to prepare for ovulation and the fallopian tube, potentially for sperm storage,” he added.

The researchers went on to study 10 snakes from nine species, including the carpet python, viper viper, and Mexican moccasin.

“Some clitoris are quite muscular and large – in viper snakes – but in some other snakes they are really thin, taut and small,” said Dr Jenna Crowe-Riddell, co-author of the study and postdoctoral researcher in neuroecology. La Trobe University. Dimensions ranged from less than one millimeter to seven millimeters.

The study found that the hemiclitoris likely consists of erectile tissue that swells with blood, as well as nerve bundles that “may be indicative of touch sensitivity, similar to the mammalian clitoris.”

“Now that we know this is here, we know what it looks like, we know it’s erectile tissue with nerves – we can’t help but think: why not this for pleasure?” said Crowe-Riddell. “I think it’s worth opening these questions for snakes.”

The study comes after a research summary presented in the United States earlier this year said that there are 9,850-1,100 nerve fibers in the human clitoris—about 20% more than the previously commonly cited 8,000 number—and reportedly comes from studies in cows. .

– with AFP

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