Sexual selection. Are ducks impressed by drakes’ display?
“Surprisingly few birds have penises, but among those that do, the Argentine lake duck (Oxyura vittata) tops the bill – the penis of this small stifftail duck from South America is shaped like a corkscrew and, at almost half a metre long, is the largest of any bird measured so far. Factors responsible for the evolution of this remarkable organ could include runaway selection, whereby drakes with longer penises gain dominance and copulate with more females, or preference by females for drakes with longer and more decorated penises.”
“Most birds have simple genitalia; males lack external genitalia and females have simple vaginas. However, male waterfowl have a phallus whose length (1.5->40 cm) and morphological elaborations vary among species and are positively correlated with the frequency of forced extra-pair copulations among waterfowl species. Here we report morphological complexity in female genital morphology in waterfowl and describe variation vaginal morphology that is unprecedented in birds. This variation comprises two anatomical novelties: (i) dead end sacs, and (ii) clockwise coils. These vaginal structures appear to function to exclude the intromission of the counter-clockwise spiralling male phallus without female cooperation.”