Why the GOP Should Love Duck Penises

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/12836528@N00/6181596156/">kevin dooley</a>/Flickr

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.


My colleague Asawin Suebsaeng missed the most important point about Duckpenisgate: right-wingers should like duck sex research, because it almost, kind of, makes Todd Akin look not-so-bonkers.

Unlike humans, female ducks actually do have a way to “shut that whole thing down” when raped by a male duck. As Richard Prum, an evolutionary ornithologist at Yale University, explained to Politifact:

In duck ponds, Prum said, a lot of forced copulation occurs. Forced copulation is what it sounds like—rape in nature. Even gang rape happens among ducks. And Prum found that while 40 to 50 percent of duck sex happens by forced copulation, only 2 to 4 percent of inseminations result from it (meaning times the female duck ends up with a fertilized egg).

“The question is why does that happen? How does a female prevent fertilization by forced copulation?” he said. “The answer has to do with taking advantage of what males have evolved—this corkscrew shaped penis.”

Prum said the duck penis is a corkscrew whose direction runs counterclockwise. Female ducks, he said, have evolved a complex vagina also shaped like a corkscrew — but a clockwise one.

“This is literally an anti-screw anatomy,” he said.

It’s not just ducks. Other fowl—like the feral chickens studied here—are able to eject sperm from their body after sex. They can eject up to 80 percent of the ejaculate! (Hat tip: University of Rhode Island professor Holly Dunsworth.)

Duck penii and sperm-ejecting chickens aren’t some novelty. They actually raise fascinating questions about evolution and procreation. Even if humans can’t “shut that whole thing down” (sorry, Todd), it’s worth figuring out why our fowl friends can.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest