The Drone Penis and Friends -What Does This Tell Us About the Strange Nature of Evolution?

The Drone Penis and Friends -What Does This Tell Us About the Strange Nature of Evolution?

Before we begin, this article may come out to some people as really interesting and the rest, beyond disgusting. So if you read the title and decided it's a good idea to read the article, do so at your own risk. The whole of the article's idea as well as lots of the content came from this video:

Strange penises, and where to find them


One of the most common example of a interesting penis, is that of the duck. If you don't know yet, a duck penis is corkscrew shaped. It spirals. A duck penis though, does not erect with blood, and hence, is not actually a penis. It is conducted by what's called lymphatic erection. In simple terms, this means that they are stretchy and flexible even when erected, and they can screw into a female duck's vagina. The female ducks, as expected have the reversed shape for this purpose.

Fun fact of the day: the duck penis is about twice as long as the duck itself when fully extended... Why? Why in the world do you need a penis that is this long?It's for good reason. Over centuries of evolution, to prevent being forced to copulate ('raped'), female ducks made their vaginas longer than what a duck can typically reach. As a result, the male duck has to make their penis longer to reach the end in response: these ducks are now forced into an evolutionary arms race. It would be very interesting in another few thousand years to see what the duck corkscrew XL plus might look like.


Cat penises have spikes - a lot of spikes. These spikes grow away from the top of the penis, and the general shape of the penis looks like the head of a missile. This reveals something quite cruel about evolution: all evolution will generally result in the better reproduction /survival rate of a species, such that they can last longer and are able to sustain through a longer period of time. This is a classic example of evolution for better reproduction.

Because of how it's shaped, a cat's penis makes retracting the penis from the female way more difficult, as the spikes stab into the flesh of the female. This makes the reproduction process painful, but also ensures that the chance of insemination (the act of introducing the sperm into the female's body) is near certain.

The 'Drone' penis

Meet the Argonaut, The World's Weirdest Octopus

The Argonaut octopus has 8 arms like all octopi, but one of such arms is called the hectocotylus. This has no difference to any of the other arms except for the fact that it is the penis of the octopus. As a matter of fact, when you eat an octopus, you would probably swallow this without noticing, so be careful if there are 8 arms on that octopus you are eating on the table.

One of the most interesting things about its penis is that it's technically a 'drone' - It can be detached from the main body of the octopus and swim by itself. additionally, the octopus will die very soon after it mates, so the hectocotylus or its 'drone' penis will swim into the corresponding organ of the female octopus called a mantle cavity (which by the way is above its eyes, side of the forehead, so right about where your temple is), where it is then able to release the sperm packets called spermatozoa into the female octopus.

This doesn't happen just once. The female is able to live longer than the male, and so multiple of these hectocotyluses can be retained at one time. Hence, when octopus talk about body count, they are incapable of lying because you can just count. This can also allow for a unique culture of polyandry (where a female can be fertilized by multiple males).

There is one additional piece of information that is needed to be told before we continue work on quite a few different species throughout nature. There is a large difference in size between a male and a female organism, as a typical female Argonaut octopus can grow to 20 cm while male octopi can only get to 2.5 cm, hence making all of these acts possible.

Penis, or Not penis?

The hyena, known for being dangerous predators in the wild, have a structure known as a pseudo-penis. These things look exactly like a penis - in fact, without close inspection it is impossible to tell whether or not it is a penis. In the female hyenas, there is a clitoris which ranges from 15-20 cm long, and is about 1 inch thick. This introduces a lot of complications: most notably the hyena's copulation (sexual intercourse), urination, and birth which are all done using the pseudo-penis. This means that, giving birth is very difficult and about 60% of hyena cubs die from suffocation. Given how thin the birth canal is, it also means the death rate of a first time mother is also very high - giving birth has got to hurt like hell.

As to why the pseudo-penis exists, many theories have postulated that it is a by-product of other changes in the female body, due to exposure to large quantities of testosterone in order to make them more aggressive and dominant, which in turn allow them to overcome and overpower the male hyenas. The hyenas are actually a female dominant society and hence changes like this are necessary.

One of the other important properties of a pseudo-penis is that it allows the female to control whether it gives consent or not for intercourse. Without retracting the pseudo-penis, it is impossible for the male to inseminate a female hyena. You simply cannot stick a penis into a penis, or bad things will happen. The same applies to other animals with pseudo-penis like the elephant and black-handed spider monkey. This means, they inhenrently have an enforced no-rape law, which to me, seems like a pretty good idea.

The Acoustic penis

Lesser water boatman - Wikipedia

The water boatman is an aquatic insect about the size of a flea.The interesting thing about this insect is that it rubs its penis against its abdominal appendage to produce sound to attract female.While this is no surprise in the animal kingdom, the statistics is where things start to get out of hand: a water boatman is able to produce up to 99 decibels of sound with its penis alone. As a comparison, a sonic boom, according to NASA, is about 110 decibels. Even after incorporating the logarithmic scale of the decibel, this makes a sonic boom only about twice as loud as an insect playing an instrument which is the size of a flea. This also means that the water boatman is proportionally the loudest animal on earth. Compare this to the loudest animal the sperm whale, which only produces a maximum recorded sound of 236 decibels. Yes, an insect size of a flea is able to produce more sound than the most busy traffic in the world.

This is another example of evolution making no sense whatsoever. Lots of random events seem to lead to the creation of creatures like the water boatman, with an unnecessarily high pitch produced by its reproduction organ. The only thing we can say for certain about nature is the fact that we don't know anything about its next step.


It's fun to talk about strange reproduction organs, but the more important idea behind all these examples, is to show how evolution makes life so interesting and bizarre.