Friday, June 08, 2007

Hung Like a Duck?

A picture of the young Snowflake, the albino Gorilla. A picture of the mature Snowflake is appended below.

On Sunday, while out digging on the dogs, a few mocking comments were made about holes and tools, and the inevitable joke was made. This is an old train in the terrier world, and I offered to Chris that I had no doubt that he was "built like a Gorilla," but tragically (and through no fault of my own), I was "hung like a duck"

It sounded like a compliment until I explained the joke.

The back story is this: When I was a kid, I visited the Barcelona zoo to see a freak of nature -- the first albino Gorilla ever found anywhere in the world. Named "Snowflake," this animal had been captured in 1967 as a baby in the wilds of Equatorial Guinea, and made famous by National Geographic, which patiently explained, in a sidebar to their feature story, that Gorilla births were extremely rare in captivity which is why most zoo animals were wild-caught.

I do not recall if they told the real story behind Snowflake, which is that his entire family was slaughtered by local natives so he could be acquired and sold to the zoo trade.

In any case later, much later, while reading a short treatise on zoo management problems, I found out why Gorilla births are so rare in captivity. It turns out that while a Gorilla may grow to an enormous size (over 400 pounds), its penis remains a tiny thing; fully erect it is only about 1.5 inches long (4 cm).

Because both male and female zoo gorillas are often overweight, they have a hard time breeding because their stomachs get in the way of procreation; most of the time they are simply "air balling."

Sadly, Snowflake died back in 2004. It seems his lack of pigmentation proved to be his downfall. At about the age of 38 he got an aggressive form of skin cancer (melanoma), and had to be put to sleep.

On the upside, with the help of three different females, Snowflake managed to father six offspring during his lifetime. I suppose that just shows what exercise and proper diet can do.

On the other end of the spectrum from the Gorilla, we have the duck. Specifically, we have the Argentine Lake Duck, an animal which, for its size, may have the longest penis of any animal in the world.

From head to tail, the Argentine Lake Duck is about about 17 inches, but its cork-screw shaped penis can be as long as 22 inches when stretched out.

Why do ducks need such a long member? Well for one thing, ducks tend to mate on the water and there's a lot of bobbing-about going on out there, which requires a longer boat-hook (if you know what I mean).

The other issue is that male ducks are in the habit of forcefully mating female ducks. In order to actually control which male duck is the sire of their brood, female duck ovaries have retreated farther and farther up into the female so that successful coitus requires at least some willingness on the part of the hen.

As female duck ovaries have retreated farther up, male duck dongs have gotten longer and longer in order to achieve their Darwinian mission.

Think of it as a kind of physiological arms race, and you have the right idea. To tell you the truth, looking at the picture above, I think this arms escalation has gone just about as far as it can go.

The odd thing about duck dongs is that they exist all. More than 97 percent of male birds have no penis, and the only exceptions are ducks, geese, swans and ratites (ostrich's, emus and rheas).

Instead of having a penis, most male birds have to get by with a mere hole called a "cloaca."

Mating between female and male birds that have a cloaca is achieved when two birds shove their nearly-identical cloacal "ports" together for a brief instant -- something called a "cloacal kiss."

It doesn't sound like much of a sex life, does it?

So that's the joke: If someone says they are "hung like duck," it sounds self-deprecating, while telling someone that they must be "built like a gorilla" sounds like some sort of compliment.

In fact, just the obvious is true -- a little clever ripping among male friends.

"Yes, it's small, but at least I got one."


thetexasq said...

Hello Terrierman,
First let me say how much I truly loved this piece. Informative, funny and very interesting. So much so that I HAVE to post this comment because I felt that this just had to be shared so I posted most of it on my Notes page on facebook. (with my own additions and reason for the posting of course). However I do want you to know that I did put everything you wrote in quotes AND referenced your blog as the original source. I hope this does not offend or upset you. I did so with the utmost propriety and respect. If you like you may email me and I will send you a copy of exactly what I posted. Thank you for the exposure to a wonderful blog piece. Well done!

Michael Q

Darrin A said...

This blog is where I first learned about Cloaca and cloacal kiss. That is really cool. Maybe someday humans could evolve into something like that. Seems more efficient, it might even be more pleasurable. Has there ever been a study to find out if birds feel pleasure during the Cloacal kiss?