To: "Rev. Dr. Onan Canobite" <email@example.com>
Subject: Worm Penis Fencing
From: "P. O. Box 2321" <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Date: Wed, 11 Feb 1998 17:59:07 -0800
Reuters New Media
Wednesday February 11 4:33 PM EST
Sex, violence and flatworms
LONDON (Reuters) - Nature has provided a variety of sexual mechanisms
to ensure survival of a species but none is as violent as "penis
fencing" among marine flatworms, German researchers said Wednesday.
Humans and animals transfer sperm through copulation, or as Nicolaas
Michiels of Germany's Max-Planck-Institute in Seewiesen calls it, a
But hermaphrodite worms that have both male and female sex organs
inject sperm under their partner's skin.
In a letter to the scientific journal Nature, Michiels explained how
he and his colleagues observed the sex play of Pseudoceros bifurcus,
marine flatworms which duel with their sharp-tipped penises to try to
inject each other with sperm. The loser is the first one to be
"Individuals try to stab one another but show strong avoidance
behavior when struck by their partner. During 39 contests, 287 strikes
led to 46 inseminations in 12 pairs," he said.
"Hypodermic insemination, when present, allows hermaphrodites to skew
sexual interaction in favor of sperm donation, fueling an evolutionary
arms race between strike and avoidance behavior," Michiels said.
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