Scientists Discover Female Insect With Penis In Brazil

Hand Out/Current Biology,Yoshizawa

Que? Scientists have discovered a new species of insect with some interesting anatomical abnormalities.

The females have penises. Yes, you read that correctly.

According to BBC Newsthe insects, dubbed Neotroglawere discovered in a cave in eastern Brazil. The bugs have an unusual mating system as the females insert their erectile organs into males' vagina-like openings. The elaborate genital structure, called a "gynosome", is used by the females to suck out sperm and nutritious seminal fluids from the males.

The wildest part? Copulations last an impressive 40-70 hours, which means these insects mate for over two days.

Once inside a male, the female's spiky penis inflates. It has numerous spines which anchor the two insects together. When the researchers attempted to pull a female and male apart during mating, the male's abdomen was ripped from the thorax but the pair didn't stop mating. 

Scientists speculate that the role reversal may have been driven by the resource-poor cave environment in which the insects live. Copulation provides a female with food and sperm, so it works to her advantage to mate as much as possible (Woo!) 

Interested in learning more? Get the full details on the unusual insects at Current Biology.

Share this 
About this author

Cristina Arreola, Associate Editor

Originally from El Paso, Texas, Cristina Mari Arreola earned her degree at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University before moving to New YorkNew York. In her downtime, you can usually find her scouring the city for the most authentic Mexican food (still looking...), scaring herself silly watching horror movies, or frantically reading a novel from her (extremely lengthy) reading list. . You can follow her on Twitter at @c_arreola

Like this post? Contribute to the discussion!