May 1, 2007

Some Mallards Put Their Penises In The Wrong Quack

I see lots of science stories, but I just couldn't pass up on this one: "
Some female ducks and geese have evolved complex genitalia to thwart unwelcome mating attempts, according to a new study.

You see, mallards are part of the 3% of birds that have penises (phalluses, dicks, shlongs, etc.) that are capable of penetrating the females love tunnel. But plenty of mallard males don't believe in dating, and do the forced sex thingy (aka rape).

Tim Birkhead at the University of Sheffield in the UK and colleagues examined vaginas and the corresponding phalluses from 16 wildfowl species. They discovered that the longer and more elaborate the male member, the longer and more elaborate its female recipient was.
No-entry signs

Some vaginas had spiral channels that would impede sex by twisting in the opposite direction to that of the male phallus. Others had as many as eight cul-de-sac pouches en route, that could prevent fertilisation by capturing unwelcome sperm. Moreover, these features were only found in species renowned for forced sex. All other species had simple male and female genitalia.

“These structures are wonderfully devious, sending sperm down the wrong road or impeding penetration,” says Birkhead.

The mallard penis has evolved longer and longer, and the female has evolved a trickier and trickier vagina. Usually, only when the female is relaxed, does she let the sperm find it's way. In other words, mallard males reading this post should either get to know the female or at least get them drunk first.

I'm just wondering what is the evolutionary advantage of this particular genitalia arms race. I'm not sure if rapist ducks pair off if they are successful with the female. The male does pair off, but only stays until the eggs are laid.

I'm thinking out loud, maybe the female knows what duck will make the best mate or she doesn't want the father to a duck that needs to rape to get laid.

Another interesting finding from Wikipedia:
Mallards also have rates of male-male sexual activity that are unusually high for birds. In some cases, as many as 19% of pairs in a Mallard population are male-male homosexual.

I wonder if the 19% that are gay have evolved a butt hole that is contoured in a way that is perfect for the cork screw penises of the mallard ducks. Of course Fundies will brush off the homosexuality on female rejection.

Some ducks do make a few good points though:

I have a feeling AngloAmerican will be commenting on this post.


  1. That is about the oddest thing I've ever read. I guess ducks are fertile and prolific enough to be choosy.

    I bet someone will come up with some mumbo jumbo religious explanation.

  2. Does this mean that sensitive new age male ducks have little penises?

  3. Fascinating. But surely you must realize that these quirky genitalia are a judgment from God for the high percentage of homosexuality within the species.

  4. That was hilarious - thanks for sharing.

  5. My friend Houston Steve sent me that Scholarly Article about duck penises yesterday. I was gonna post about it, but you beat me to you had a YouTube clip of Duckman, so anything I do will be mere Lily-Gilding.

    Duck dicks. Gotta love it.

  6. Chickie, I published both comments because now I know what TFS stands for. I used to think it had negative connotations, thanks to the "F"

    Elisson, nothing wrong about you posting about this too. Many other bloggers have.

    It is always interesting to see other peoples POV's on the same subject.

  7. This is absolutely more than I ever wanted to know about ducks' dongs. And I love birds.

    Still, it reminds me of something I read in a completely different context a long time ago: That the average length and width of the human penis (about 5.9 inches long by 1.1 inches wide) is only slightly larger than a human vagina (about 5 inches deep by 1 inch wide), and that there is a reason why the "micropenis" mutation is so rare...

  8. Well, BEAJ- that certainly is a "different" sort of post. I know you've given up arguing with Nazis, but is this really an improvement? HA! And just so you, after I commented on your post about the Nazi girl, one of his pals came by and tried to crap all over my blog. I had to turn comment moderation on...So anyway, I hope the dirtbags are leaving you alone now. Have fun!

  9. Michael, evolution is the answer. Micro penises don't give their goo much of a head start so the micro penis gene carriers are usually out of luck when it comes to spreading their micro penis genes.

    Amishav, I did your kind of post. It was about dating and the single scene, except for Mallards, not humans.
    I still have my nazi fight sight.
    Judeophobe Watch

  10. It's obviously Intelligent Design.

  11. The Designer keeps tampering with the ducks' genitalia!


  12. Elisson sent me over her to read about duck dicks and such. I'm sitting here examining the corkscrew from the wine cabinet and saying to myself over and over, "No way!"

    Wonder what kind of lubricant they use. Maybe goose grease... heh...

  13. BEAJ
    Of course evolution is the answer. A race of short-dicked men would have died out long ago... or evolved a female with a much shallower vagina.

  14. I found out something interesting about the sex life of barramundi the other day too. Barramundi are a type of fish, btw. (Dunno if you have them in the states.)

    When they get to a certain size and move into the saltwater out of the fresh water rivers and estuaries, some of them become females. The bigger the barra, the more likely it is to be female.

  15. Nothing gets the day started than a cup of coffee and reading about LOVE CHANNELS..
    LOVE IT!
    I'll be back for more..I love your thoughts and writings.

  16. This was hilarious and informative. Always fun to read about the wonders of nature.

  17. Evolution is one aspect but another is devolution which explains the existence of sterile neuters like Ricky.

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  19. I can always count on this site for a good laugh. Can I nominate you for the Bloggers Choice Awards? They have a category for best humor blog and personally I think you are a shoo-in (but then again I am biased as a fellow atheist sarcastic person) Anyway, worth a shot. What's to be lost?

  20. A Taylor, I'd be honored to be nominated. I doubt I will win though. I could be the funniest blogger in the blogosphere, but I diversify and tend to get serious here too at times.

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  22. I've been feeling a bit out of sorts lately but I better make a comment.

    Frankly I'm opposed to gay ducks. My favourite ducks are the ones you see hanging up in Chinese restaurants and to get more of those I reckon you need straight ducks to do the business.