- News Home
17 April 2014 12:48 pm ,
Vol. 344 ,
Officials last week revealed that the U.S. contribution to ITER could cost $3.9 billion by 2034—roughly four times the...
An experimental hepatitis B drug that looked safe in animal trials tragically killed five of 15 patients in 1993. Now,...
Using the two high-quality genomes that exist for Neandertals and Denisovans, researchers find clues to gene activity...
A new report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) concludes that humanity has done little to slow...
Astronomers have discovered an Earth-sized planet in the habitable zone of a red dwarf—a star cooler than the sun—500...
Three years ago, Jennifer Francis of Rutgers University proposed that a warming Arctic was altering the behavior of the...
- 17 April 2014 12:48 pm , Vol. 344 , #6181
- About Us
Video: Sex and a Stab to the Head
12 November 2013 7:15 pm
Of all the bizarre forms of animal copulation, only one has earned the description “cephalo-traumatic.” Sea slugs in the genus Siphopteron are hermaphroditic mollusks smaller than a pea, bearing stretchy, multipronged penises. These organs have both a spiny bulb for releasing sperm into a partner’s genital opening and a pointy “stylet” for … various other kinds of stabbing. Before or during copulation, one slug will pierce the other’s flesh and inject its prostate fluid. (Sometimes, the wounding is mutual.) The purpose of this injection is not clear, though some have suggested that it adjusts the recipient’s hormones or prevents it from copulating with another mate immediately after the interaction. And while many Siphopteron seem to have a rather arbitrary stabbing style—piercing at various places along the body—a new species with the rather bland name Siphopteron sp. 1 is remarkable. It pokes unerringly into its partner’s forehead (see arrows in video above), where scientists believe its prostate juices may interact with a mate’s neurons. The researchers that unveil this bizarre ritual online today in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B remain baffled as to its evolutionary purpose.