Reversed Sexual Organs Discovered: Males With Vaginas, Females With Penises

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April 21, 2014 8:08am PST

Researchers have made quite the astonishing discovery recently, insects that have reversed genitalia where the males possess vagina-like organs and the females possess penis-like organs.

The first of its kind discovery of extreme reversals in sex roles came from an extremely dry cave in Brazil and found that four species within the Neotrogla genus the females were equipped with gynosomes, which are like a male penis, and the males equipped with phallosomes, which are like a vagina.

According to researchers at the Federal University of Lavras in Brazil, the females are rather hung as well. Their reproductive organs are roughly one-seventh of the whole length of the insect, and here’s the other thing – they engage in intercourse for between 40 and 70 hours at a time with the females actually engaging the males and inserting their “penis” inside the male.

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A co-author of the study, Rodrigo Ferreira, told Live Science that “Neotrogla species constitute the first cases in nature in which genitalia are reversed.”

There’s no other biological structure of this type known to exist anywhere else in the animal kingdom, according to the author of the study, Kazunori Yoshizawa. He explained that “Evolution of such novelties is exceptionally rare, maybe comparable with the origin of insect wings.”

He also explained that due to the nutrient-rich semen that the males produce, the females engage in sex at much higher rates and with greater intensity than normal because the caves where they live lack resources.

“It is very likely that female Neotrogla can coercively grasp and copulate with a reluctant male,” he said. Yoshizawa also pointed out that coerced sex is generally only perpetrated by the males in any given species.

Their study will continue with the researchers trying to determine how the males respond to coercive sex from their female counterparts. They also said that they’re constantly finding new species in the Brazilian caves, something that they say is encouraging for their research.

“This indicates the huge potential that Brazil possesses regarding cave fauna,” Ferreira said. “Brazil might have more than 150,000 caves.”

They also worried about recent changes in Brazil’s laws that no longer protect the caves like they used to.

“The Brazilian laws regarding cave protection  have changed in recent years and now the caves, which used to be protected, are under risk,” Ferreira said. “Many new species, some of which could bring huge advances for science — biology, evolution or even some of biotechnological interest — are threatened. Many species are under the risk of extinction even before being discovered.”

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