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The Bizarre World of Animal Reproduction


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We’ll start with the hyena.  Depending on if you notice her udders, the female spotted hyena looks either like a male or a hermaphrodite. Being neither, the female hyena, like other mammals, has a uterus, ovaries, udders, labia and clitoris; unfortunately (or not, depending on your interest), the hyena’s clitoris is super long and frequently becomes erect – giving her the appearance of an aroused male. On top of that, her labia are formed in such a way, with a fold and connective tissue, that they strongly resemble a scrotum. Nonetheless, those aren’t the family jewels, they’re just strangely built lady parts.

Weirder still, the female hyena’s clitoris, often referred to as a pseudopenis because of its resemblance to the real thing, is used for urinating, copulating and giving birth; this means she pees through it, but also, during mating, the male hyena inserts his penis directly into it. Later, when it’s time to give birth, the baby is delivered through the clitoris; in order to accommodate intercourse and delivery, rather than being erect, the pseudopenis becomes flaccid, thin and elastic.


In fact, a number of animal species have a pseudopenis, including lemurs, squirrel monkeys and some birds. Although with the lemur and monkey, the pseudopenis is a female characteristic, when it is seen in birds, it is a trait only seen in males. Most bird species, up to 97%, do not have a penis or other phallic structure; rather, they mate by pressing together an opening on their bottoms whereby the sperm is transferred via a “kiss.” Known as the cloaca, like the hyena’s clitoris, it is used not only in reproduction, but for defecation and urination as well.

More than just the pouch separates marsupials from the rest of the mammalian kingdom. Female marsupials have two uteruses, as well as three vaginas: two for intercourse and a third for delivering babies. To properly tend to the ladies, the male marsupial has a two-pronged penis. Unlike other mammals, marsupial fetuses gestate for only about a month before they are born. Of course, they hide in the mother’s pouch for a good long time until they are sufficiently developed.

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