Who has the largest huevos?

November 18, 2011 • 11:33 pm

Since Professor Cobb has seen fit to drag in matters scatological during my absence, I offer the following fun biology fact, taken from the Animal Diversity Web of the Univesity of Michigan’s Museum of Vertebrate Zoology. It refers to the North Atlantic right whale, Eubalaena glacialis:

Males tend to have the largest testes of any living mammal (weighing up to about 525 kg.), suggesting that sperm competition may play a significant role in determining mating success.

Larger testes, of course, connote larger amounts of sperm, which can be used to displace the sperm of a previously-mating male or simply to inseminate more females when there’s competition between males for females.

Speaking of the paternal apparatus, we might as well cite the world’s largest penis:

Blue Whale males have the biggest penises in the world, with sexual organs that can reach up to 8 feet long (2.4 meters). Blue Whales mate in warmer waters.

This doesn’t look like a blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) to me, but the organ is impressive:

If you’re interested in things penile, Wikipedia has a fascinating “Penis” entry, which includes this fact well known to biologists:

The record for the largest penis to body size ratio is held by the barnacle. The barnacle’s penis can grow to up to forty times its own body length. This enables them to reach the nearest female.

Here’s a video showing the male male portion of a hermaphroditic barnacle in action:

20 thoughts on “Who has the largest huevos?

  1. So when the whale needs to urinate does it have to push the whole thing out or can it just poke a small portion out? This would seem to matter in Antarctic water. Also do whales have foreskins? (Obviously Jewish ones don’t. ;-))

  2. Esoteric news I need. But what mammal has the largest penis relative to body weight? Can it be the South American tapir? I may have seen this impressive appendage reaching from belly to ground and half way up again when I was a zoo keeper. I may be wrong. Anyone know?

  3. Wikipedia she say: “Most barnacles are hermaphroditic, although a few species are gonochoric or androdioecious.” In my lectures, I just say they are hermaphrodites. So that’s not a male in action, it’s just a barnacle.

  4. I can’t even figure out how to frame this as a question, but how is that whale’s penis in that scientist’s/wrangler’s/person’s hand?

    1. Wait till you see this:
      Dartz, the Russo-Latvian luxury SUV manufacturer, briefly offered whale foreskin upholstery. After protests from, amongst others, Pamela Anderson, they dropped it. The communiqué is priceless:

      The Reykjavik Grapevine features shoes made from the same exclusive material:

      An apparently unrelated news item featured on the same page:
      Vasectomies More Popular Than Ever
      Makes you wonder why so many seem to go wrong.

  5. When thinking of other species “intromittant organs”, I am always reminded of the “hectocotylus” of the cephalopod molluscs, as described in one of my palaeontology textbooks by Euan “trilobite eyes” Clarkson (and coincidentally, father of one of my caving and climbing friends in student days). As described by Clarkson, the hectocotylus is a modified arm (tentacle) which collects a package of sperm from the male and delivers it to the “pallilial cavity” of the female. Now, Clarkson differs from the Wikipedia article (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hectocotylus, written long after Clarkson’s book) in asserting that the hectocotylus of at least Argonauta can detach itself from the male’s body and actively swim off in pursuit of the female. In Clarkson’s words “copulation by guided missile”.
    Now, wasn’t that calculated to stick in the attention of a student?
    (I haven’t seen the assertion repeated elsewhere, so I’m a bit dubious of it now. But it’s within the bounds of possibility. Chemical receptors on tentacles are known ; they have delocalised movement and control. Other molluscs use calcite darts to carry sperm packages. So the elements are there. The story as a whole though is just a little too … too … “much” for full credibility.

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