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Anyone in the room thought about sex today?
Yeah, you did.
Thank you for putting your hand up over there.
Well, I'm here to provide you with
some biological validation
for your sordid daydreams.
I'm here to tell you a few things
that you might not have known about wild sex.
Now, when humans think about sex,
male and female forms
are generally what come to mind,
but for many millions of years,
such specific categories didn't even exist.
Sex was a mere fusion of bodies
or a trickle of DNA
shared between two or more beings.
It wasn't until about 500 million years ago
that we start to see structures akin to a penis
or a thing that gives DNA out,
and a vagina, something that receives it.
Now invariably, you're probably thinking about
what belongs to our own species,
these very familiar structures,
but the diversity that we see in sexual structures
in the animal kingdom that has evolved
in response to the multitude of factors
surrounding reproduction
is pretty mind-blowing.
Penile diversity is especially profuse.
So this is a paper nautilus.
It's a close relative of squid and octopus,
and males have a hectocotylus.
Just what is a hectocotylus?
A detachable, swimming penis.
It leaves the [body of the male],
finds the female through
pheromonal cues in the water,

attaches itself to her body
and deposits the sperm.
For many decades, biologists actually felt
that the hectocotylus was a
separate organism altogether.

Now, the tapir is a mammal from South America.
And the tapir has a prehensile penis.
It actually has a level of dexterity in its penis
much akin to what we have with our hands.
And it uses this dexterity
to bypass the vagina altogether
and deposit sperm directly into the female's uterus,
not to mention it's a pretty good size.
The biggest penis in the animal kingdom,
however, is not that of the tapir.
The biggest penis-to-body-size ratio
in the animal kingdom actually belongs
to the meager beach barnacle,
and this video is actually showing you
what the human penis would look like
if it were the same size as that of a barnacle.
Mm-hm. (Laughter)
So with all of this diversity in structure,
one might think, then, that penises
are fitting neatly into vaginas all over the place
for the purposes of successful reproduction.
Simply insert part A into slot B,
and we should all be good to go.
But of course, that doesn't exactly happen,
and that's because we can't
just take form into account.

We have to think about function as well,
and when it comes to sex,
function relates to the contributions made
by the gametes, or the sperm and the eggs.
And these contributions are far from equal.
Eggs are very expensive to make,
so it makes sense for females to be very choosy
about who she shares them with.
Sperm, on the other hand, is abundant and cheap,
so it makes more sense for males
to have a more-sex-is-better strategy
when it comes to siring members
of future generations.
So how do animals cope
with these very incongruent
needs between the sexes?

I mean, if a female doesn't choose a particular male,
or if she has the ability to store sperm
and she simply has enough,
then it makes more sense for her to spend her time
doing other biologically relevant things:
avoiding predators, taking care of offspring,
gathering and ingesting food.
This is, of course, bad news for any male
who has yet to make a deposit in her sperm bank,
and this sets the scene for
some pretty drastic strategies

for successful fertilization.
This is bedbug sex,
and it's aptly termed traumatic insemination.
Males have a spiked, barbed penis
that they literally stab into the female,
and they don't stab it anywhere near her vagina.
They stab it anywhere in her body,
and the sperm simply migrates
through her hemolymph to her ovaries.
If a female gets too many stab wounds,
or if a stab wound happens to become infected,
she can actually die from it.
Now if you've ever been out for a nice,
peaceful walk by the lake
and happened to see some ducks having sex,
you've undoubtedly been alarmed,
because it looks like gang rape.
And quite frankly, that's exactly what it is.
A group of males will grab a female,
hold her down,
and ballistically ejaculate their spiral-shaped penis
into her corkscrew-shaped vagina
over and over and over again.
From flaccid to ejaculation in less than a second.
Now the female actually
gets the last laugh, though,

because she can actually manipulate her posture
so as to allow the sperm of certain suitors
better access to her ovaries.
Now, I like to share stories
like this with my audiences

because, yeah, we humans,
we tend to think sex, sex is fun, sex is good,
there's romance, and there's orgasm.
But orgasm didn't actually evolve
until about 65 million years ago
with the advent of mammals.
But some animals had it going
on quite a bit before that.

There are some more primitive ways
of pleasing one's partner.
Earwig males have either
really large penile appendages
or really small ones.
It's a very simple genetically inherited trait
and the males are not otherwise any different.
Those that have long penile appendages
are not bigger or stronger
or otherwise any different at all.
So going back to our biological minds, then,
we might think that females should choose
to have sex with the guys that
have the shorter appendages,

because she can use her time for other things:
avoiding predators, taking care of young,
finding and ingesting food.
But biologists have repeatedly observed
that females choose to have sex
with the males that have the long appendages.
Why do they do this?
Well, according to the biological literature,
"During copulation, the genitalia of certain males
may elicit more favorable female responses
through superior mechanical
or stimulatory interaction

with the female reproductive tract."
These are Mexican guppies,
and what you see on their upper maxilla
is an outgrowth of epidermal filaments,
and these filaments basically form
a fish mustache, if you will.
Now males have been observed to prod
the female's genital opening
prior to copulating with her,
and in what I have lovingly termed
the Magnum, P.I. hypothesis,

females are overwhelmingly more likely to be found
with males that have these fish mustaches.
A little guppy porn for you right there.
So we've seen very different strategies
that males are using when it comes to
winning a female partner.
We've seen a coercion strategy in which
sexual structures are used in a forceful way

to basically make a female have sex.
We've also seen a titillation strategy
where males are actually
pleasing their female partners into choosing them
as a sex partner.
Now unfortunately, in the animal kingdom,
it's the coercion strategy that we see
time and time again.
It's very common in many phyla,
from invertebrates to avian species,
mammals, and, of course, even in primates.
Now interestingly, there
are a few mammalian species

in which females have evolved specialized genitalia
that doesn't allow for sexual coercion to take place.
Female elephants and female hyenas
have a penile clitoris,
or an enlarged clitoral tissue that hangs externally,
much like a penis,
and in fact it's very difficult to sex these animals
by merely looking at their external morphology.
So before a male can insert
his penis into a female's vagina,

she has to take this penile clitoris
and basically inside-out it in her own body.
I mean, imagine putting a penis into another penis.
It's simply not going to happen
unless the female is on board with the action.
Now, even more interesting is the fact
that elephant and hyena societies
are entirely matriarchal:
they're run by females, groups of females,
sisters, aunts and offspring,
and when young males attain sexual maturity,
they're turfed out of the group.
In hyena societies, adult males
are actually the lowest on the social scale.
They can take part in a kill only after
everybody else, including the offspring.
So it seems that when you take the penis power
away from a male,
you take away all the social power he has.
So what are my take-home
messages from my talk today?

Well, sex is just so much more
than insert part A into slot B
and hope that the offspring run around everywhere.
The sexual strategies and reproductive structures
that we see in the animal kingdom basically
dictate how males and females
will react to each other,

which then dictates how populations and societies
form and evolve.
So it may not be surprising to any of you
that animals, including ourselves,
spend a good amount of time thinking about sex,
but what might surprise you is the extent to which
so many other aspects of their lives and our lives
are influenced by it.
So thank you, and happy daydreaming.
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【TED】Carin Bondar: The birds and the bees are just the beginning (The birds and the bees are just the beginning | Carin Bondar)

25440 Folder Collection
CUChou published on January 6, 2015
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