Researchers have found that a species of bat uses its penis in an unusual way during reproduction and avoids penetration altogether.
Researchers from the University of Lausanne Switzerland They studied the Serotine bat, which has a penis seven times longer than its partner's vagina.
The an animal It also has a heart-shaped head that is seven times wider than the vaginal opening. The size and shape make it theoretically impossible to penetrate.
However, researchers say the bats use their huge penises as an extra arm to pull the female's tail sheath out of the way.
The unique use of the plug allows the bats to engage in contact mating – a behavior more commonly seen in how birds reproduce.
First author Nicholas Fazel said: “By chance, we noticed that these bats have disproportionately long penises, and we always wondered, ‘How does that work?'
“We thought it might be like the dog, where the penises feed after penetration so they're locked together, or maybe they just couldn't get inside, but this type of mating has never been seen in mammals before.”
The researchers observed the unique mating ritual with cameras placed behind a net that the bats could climb on.
Their studies showed that during mating. Male bats held their partners by the back and moved the pelvic probe until they made contact with the female.
At this time they remained calm and held the females in a long embrace. It lasted an average of 53 minutes, with the longest incident lasting 12.7 hours.
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After mating, the researchers observed that the abdomens of the female bats were wet, indicating the presence of sperm. Further testing is needed to confirm that sperm were transferred during the events.
The researchers speculated that male bats may have evolved their large penises to push aside female bats' tail sheaths, which females may use to avoid sex.
Professor Fassel said: “Bats use their tail sheaths to fly and catch insects, and female bats also use them to cover their undersides and protect themselves from males, but males can use these large penises to overcome the tail sheath and reach the vulva.”
The researchers collaborated with the Bat Rehabilitation Center Ukrainewho photographed mating pairs and with Ian Jeuker, a bat enthusiast and citizen scientist who captured several hours of footage of Serotine bats in a church attic. Netherlands.
In total, the team analyzed 97 mating events – 93 from Dutch churches and four from Ukrainian bat rehabilitation centers. The findings are published in the journal Current Biology.