Embryonic koro in birds
June 11, 2013 5:15 PM   Subscribe

Cocks (almost) don't have a penis, a trait common to 97% of bird species, but they can grow one when the expression of the Bmp4 gene is prevented. The expression of this gene causes the percursor of the phallus in the chick embryo to undergo apoptosis (cell death) and Bmp genes are also involved in 3 other bird traits: feather development, toothlessness and beak shape. In penis-less bird species, copulation requires a sex maneuver nicknamed the cloacal kiss (in French) which requires a full cooperation of the female (3 min of tender parrot sex). In species where males have a penis, like ducks, females are less lucky: the coevolution of the rather convoluted morphology of male and female genitalia has been hypothezised to occur through sexual conflict [many previouslies]. The evolutionary mechanisms that drove phallus reduction in most birds species are still unknown.
posted by elgilito (18 comments total) 15 users marked this as a favorite

MetaFilter: 3 min of tender parrot sex.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 5:27 PM on June 11, 2013 [7 favorites]

Takeoff weight?
posted by Zalzidrax at 5:33 PM on June 11, 2013 [1 favorite]

a further unknown
posted by The Minotaur at 5:45 PM on June 11, 2013

My initial takeaway is that dinosaurs probably had penises!
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:53 PM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]

3 min of tender parrot sex.

These videos are 'a thing' with animal breeders. There's quite a bit of humor in choosing the soundtrack. Random example: chameleon sex.
posted by peeedro at 5:56 PM on June 11, 2013

Huh, interesting stuff. Thanks for posting it.

Although as an aside as I was reading the text I thought it might be a sequel to this.
posted by Tell Me No Lies at 5:59 PM on June 11, 2013

MetaFilter: 3 min of tender parrot sex.

Much preferable to duck rape. I've seen mallard drakes after a female and it's really unpleasant and distressing to see.
posted by rtha at 6:07 PM on June 11, 2013

a sex maneuver nicknamed the cloacal kiss (in French)

With tongues, then?
posted by Sys Rq at 6:08 PM on June 11, 2013

Interesting (and awesome) that the full article in Cell wasn't behind a paywall.
posted by killdevil at 6:09 PM on June 11, 2013

Aerodynamic advantages? One less thing to get snagged in a branch on takeoff?
posted by davejay at 7:49 PM on June 11, 2013

Was on my balcony this morning.

"Skee skee skee skee Skee SKeee SKEE"

Look over to my left, there's a seagull with its wing wide open in a Jesus pose on top of the building kitty-corner to me.

"SKEE SKKKEEE SKKEE Skee skee ske ee ... ee ..... e"

Then it hops off another seagull and hunkers down. Ruffles feathers. Kinda walks off.

Bottom seagull's, like, well I want to go find some food but I feel like I ought to stick around or something, for a little while.

(Then again, I saw a nest of seagull chicks fly for the first time, from atop the building across the street from me. Both coupled seagulls were there and each "helped" at least one chick off the ledge. The smaller adult seagull repeated a very distinct call, and after a while a chick would come back and the call would wind down, then become more impassioned again. After the 3rd chick came back and it was a while before another, the bigger seagull took over the call until another chick returned. Kept calling for another few minutes - nothing. The bigger one flew off and a few minutes later came back with the final chick following it back to the nest.)
posted by porpoise at 9:37 PM on June 11, 2013 [2 favorites]

I bet the ordinarily penisless birds they made develop penises are really confused.
posted by DyRE at 9:56 PM on June 11, 2013

So I just opened my browser back up on my phone to look at something with my girlfriend and the first thing she sees is "3 mins of tender parrot sex" and promptly lost it laughing.
posted by DyRE at 11:23 PM on June 11, 2013 [3 favorites]

Thanks to Metafilter, I can now speak authoritatively on a variety of bird penis-related topics. You'd be surprised how often this comes up in casual conversation.

Or mabye I just have weird friends.
posted by deathpanels at 5:10 AM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Wow. Mind blown. This was a nice reminder for me that evolution isn't teleological, doesn't "aim" for increased complexity.

See, I'd known for years that most birds don't have penises — but that ducks, mammals, snakes and turtles all do. And yet, when I read that chick embryos do have a penis precursor, I was really startled.

Somehow, I realized, I'd been assuming without really thinking about it that "no penis" was the default, "less evolved" state, and that ducks, mammals, snakes and turtles must have evolved their penises independently. Which is obviously dumb just looking at the phylogenic situation: it's a lot tidier to say "Our common ancestor had a penis, and then some bird lineages lost it again" than to say "Mumble mumble convergent evolution." But unless you're actively thinking about it, it's so hard to remember that evolution can work that way, sometimes removing previously-evolved complex structures rather than constantly adding complexity.

Also, yeah, dinosaur cock. Fuck yeah.
posted by Now there are two. There are two _______. at 8:04 AM on June 12, 2013 [1 favorite]

Do pigeons have penises? I'm asking for a friend.
posted by maryr at 10:19 AM on June 12, 2013

« Older Armed With Antique Clothes and a Bike   |   Everyone is the main character in their own story Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments