Security Arms Races in Duck Oviducts and Phalluses

Interesting research at Yale:

Dr. Brennan argues that elaborate female duck anatomy evolves as a countermeasure against aggressive males. "Once they choose a male, they're making the best possible choice, and that's the male they want siring their offspring," she said. "They don't want the guy flying in from who knows where. It makes sense that they would develop a defense."

Female ducks seem to be equipped to block the sperm of unwanted males. Their lower oviduct is spiraled like the male phallus, for example, but it turns in the opposite direction. Dr. Brennan suspects that the female ducks can force sperm into one of the pockets and then expel it. "It only makes sense as a barrier," she said.

To support her argument, Dr. Brennan notes studies on some species that have found that forced matings make up about a third of all matings. Yet only 3 percent of the offspring are the result of forced matings. "To me, it means these females are successful with this strategy," she said.

Dr. Brennan suspects that when the females of a species evolved better defenses, they drove the evolution of male phalluses. "The males have to step up to produce a longer or more flexible phallus," she said.

Posted on May 3, 2007 at 7:45 AM • 24 Comments

Comments

WiwMay 3, 2007 8:07 AM

Has Bruce lost his mind or has this blog been hacked ? Two weirds story in a row...? :)

matt aMay 3, 2007 8:10 AM

Great! Now TSA will ban me from bringing my duck on the plane...

sooth_sayerMay 3, 2007 8:17 AM

Come off it Bruce .. this is not security .. you just want to talk about phallus and ovaries on your site.

I don't think people come here to birds and bee's talk .. let's talk some hash functions again for pete's sake .. or mine.

gregMay 3, 2007 8:23 AM

I think is all about the constant security arms race.

Anyway, I think Bruce is alowed to put what he wants here. And well he's not a machine, I'm sure he finds some things funny too.

you are allowed to laugh.

nostromoMay 3, 2007 8:46 AM

@Wiw:
If you think *Bruce* is getting weird, check the caption to the picture in the story:
"Patricia Brennan, a behavioral ecologist, leaning over the nether regions of a duck ... and carefully coaxing out his phallus."

Yes, the search for knowledge has no boundaries, etc, but the topic a scientist chooses says something about the scientist ...

AnonymousMay 3, 2007 9:02 AM

> studies on some species that have found
> that forced matings make up about a third of
> all matings. Yet only 3 percent of the
> offspring are the result of forced matings.

Aha, that explains why my intimate experiments to create a duck/human hybrid have been failing.

Clive RobinsonMay 3, 2007 9:19 AM

Hmm...

Like the Duck's anatomy, I think this story is more than a little bit twisted...

Oh, just to add to the weirdness, how many of you know that the captive or domestic turkey's brain has shrunk so much that,

1, The young will put their heads back in the rain and drown.

2, The adult males no longer know how to mate...

3, Mr Scott Adams (Dilberts creator) lived on a Turky farm and on occasion had to fill in for the male turkeys...

Colin HMay 3, 2007 9:46 AM

"The males have to step up to produce a longer or more flexible phallus,"

This sounds like the catalyst for a whole new wave in "duck spam", although how you'd spam a duck I have no idea.

Cajun CookerMay 3, 2007 10:03 AM

I can't wait to see what happens when those uber macho ducks invent tampon tasers for their ladies. That'll show those uppity wimminz. It's all about the type-A, right?

Ron JeremyMay 3, 2007 10:31 AM

> "The males have to step up to produce a longer or more flexible phallus," she said.

Is she referring to ducks?

MalvolioMay 3, 2007 2:17 PM

> Come off it Bruce .. this is not security ..
> you just want to talk about phallus and ovaries on your site.

Without speculating on Mr Schneier's motives, I must say that this IS a security issue: how does the administrator (in this case, Charles Darwin) of a system (in this case, Mrs. Duck) allow access to and use of that system by authorized users (Mr. Duck) while denying it to others.

> studies on some species that have found
> that forced matings make up about a third of
> all matings.

The real tragedy is, most of these rapes go unreported.

spank_my_canard_and_ill_quack_like_a_duckMay 3, 2007 4:00 PM

I note that Bruce has just escaped the morally recalcitrant US for a visit to London and Europe - little wonder he's expanded his scope slightly, are you even allowed to talk about this kind of thing in the US without being labelled anti-bush, anti-'peace'-in-Iraq and a terrorist? I mean, 'duck' even rhymes with a naughty word which would be considered heinous cussing in the bible belt (that strip of land between the Mexican and Canadian borders).

US Customs-
Uniformed droid: Carrying any duck eggs Mr Schneier?
Bruce: fertilised or unfertilised?

I agree with the above, this is security and also very interesting. But seriously, if you cant see the connection to squid then you need your head read - clearly its water, and everyone knows ducks weigh the same as witches ... burn her!

ForRealMay 3, 2007 4:11 PM

"Patricia Brennan, a behavioral ecologist, examining the phallus of a Pekin duck."
This would be a "peeking Patricia" would it not? (Or a "Patricia peeking a Pekin phallus!")

RoxanneMay 3, 2007 5:43 PM

Thanks, Bruce. I had forgotten all about that bird sanctuary in Sussex, until now. :-p

another bruceMay 4, 2007 4:13 AM

no duck dicks thread would be complete without a mention of the argentine lake duck and its incredible 18 inch corkscrew penis.

matt aMay 4, 2007 8:12 AM

"So is that a mallard in your pocket or are you happy to see me?"

another bruceMay 4, 2007 11:37 AM

once there was a man who loved his pet duck so much, he took it everywhere with him. he tried to take it into a movie theater, but box office girl told him, no ducks in here. so he stepped out of line, went around the corner of the building, stuffed the duck down his pants, returned and bought a ticket.

inside the theater, after the lights went down, the man unzipped his fly to give the duck some breathing room. about ten minutes into the movie, he noticed that the woman sitting next to him was staring raptly at his crotch.

somewhat indignantly, he asked her, lady, haven't you ever seen one of those before?

she replied, i've never seen one eat popcorn before.

another bruceMay 4, 2007 11:52 AM

two years after the theater incident recounted above, the duck died, and its bereaved owner sought to honor its memory with a church service, so he approached his local parish priest.

there'll be no services for animals in my church, the priest said firmly, but then he added....

about a month ago, a new liberal protestant denomination opened up down the road. there's no telling what those people will go for, why don't you ask them?

the man thanked the priest for his advice, then said, just one more question. do you believe an honorarium of three hundred pounds is sufficient for the pastor conducting the service?

the priest: three hundred pounds! why didn't you tell me the duck was catholic?

translatorMay 6, 2007 5:34 AM

To translate what sur just wrote: "This is a good example of a Russian proverb: `For every cock with thread, there is an ass with a left-handed thread.'"

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