Fri. Apr 19th, 2024

L&rsquo ;Huge penis of a species of bat elucidated

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A common serotinus (Eptesicus serotinus).

Agence France-Presse

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The mystery surrounding the disproportionate penis of a species of bat has been solved thanks to the observations of a Dutch retiree in a church, according to a study published in Current Biology (New window ) (in English).

These observations allowed a team of European researchers to conclude that this species, the common serotine, does not use its organ to penetrate the sex of the female, but like a sort of copulatory arm.

This is the first time that a mammal has been recorded with the capacity to reproduce without the introduction of its genital appendage.

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A common serotinus (Eptesicus serotinus)

The common serotinus, which has a wingspan of more than 35 centimeters, is a widespread species in the forests of&#x27 ;Europe and Asia.

Swiss biologist Nicolas Fasel, a researcher at the University of Lausanne, told the ;AFP that his team had long noticed that the animal had an extremely long penis when it is erect.

A size seven times longer than the female's organ could accommodate. Above all, the end of his erect penis takes the shape of a heart, also seven times too big to allow penetration.

Characteristics that make classic copulation impossible, notes Nicolas Fasel.

The mystery was all the greater as bat mating is difficult to observe.

The solution arrived via email , whose first word was penis, followed by something in Dutch, and the word Eptesicus, namely the scientific name of the species.

The latter caught the attention of Professor Fasel who, watching the video attached to the email, realized that he had his answer.

A passion making him the ideal person to understand their behavior, according to Mr. Fasel, who included the retiree in the list of authors of the study published this week.

The researchers analyzed 93 matings in the church, filmed through a grid on which the bats clung.

The female serotine has a large membrane connecting the tail to her elbows that she can use to protect her genitals. mating, the male grabs the female by the nape of the neck and uses his long penis to spread this membrane and reach the entrance to the genital tract.

What follows is a long, immobile embrace, called contact mating, which allows the transfer of sperm from the male.

This form of reproduction without penetration, also called cloacal kissing, is common in birds, but has never before been observed in a mammal.

The embrace can last forever in the serotinous bat, with an average duration of 53 minutes and a recorded record of 13 hours.

According to Professor Fasel, the female could use her extremely long cervix to store sperm from different males for months, before choosing one to procreate.

It is possible that other species of bat reproduce in this way, adds the researcher, who supposes that more research on the subject could see many other species appear with penises strange.

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