December 23rd, 2009 | Uncategorized

Duck sex just got a lot more complicated

Ducks have taken the battle of the sexes to a whole new level.

To impregnate female ducks as quickly as possible, a certain species of male ducks has evolved corkscrew-shaped penises that shoot out of the ducks’ bodies in less than half a second, Yale researchers have found. To thwart the males, female duck vaginas have evolved to spiral the other way — an adaptation the researchers say is one of the most dramatic examples of the conflict between the sexes to control fertilization.

The finding was officially announced today by Yale researcher Patricia Brennan, who worked with fellow Yale researchers Christopher Clark and Richard Prum on the study. They published their results in the Dec. 23 issue of the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society, Series B.

Male ducks evolved their quick-ejecting penises — some of which are up to eight inches long — to mate forcibly with females, Brennan said in a press release. But female ducks’ convoluted vaginas, Brennan said, should make it difficult for a male duck to force its way in if the female duck isn’t interested.

Using a set of glass tubes with different shapes to test her hypothesis, Brennan found that male duck penises, which spiral in a counter-clockwise direction, could not extend into a glass tube that spun clockwise like a female duck vagina.

This finding, Brennan said, will give scientists new insights into how sexual conflict could lead to evolution.

  • yalie

    I’m confused how this is a breakthrough if I already knew it?? (and I’m not even a science major). Maybe the quick ejection is a new finding, but the spiral stuff has definitely been known for quite a while.

  • LOLwut

    Yale has a budget crisis, the nation has a economic crisis… and someone’s spending money on researching duck penises. Think about this for a second.


    I’m all for research and such, but seriously…?!? Duck penises?

  • Jasneet

    Wow. THIS is why I’m applying to Yale :)

  • Y’11


    I can tell that you are not as educated in science as you think. You sound like the politician who complains about money being wasted on research on worms and fruit flies.

  • Inspired by this article …

    “Convoluted Vaginas” would make a great band name …

  • 2010

    title is misleading. duck sex didn’t “just get a lot more complicated.” our knowledge of it just got more detailed.

  • Duck voyeur

    The reporter misunderstands. We have believed for years that the spiral chirality mattered. The novelty here is that it has been tested by humans teasing and masturbating drakes with spiralling see-through glass vaginas.

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