Meet Phallostethus cuulong, The Fish With Elaborate, Multi-Part Genitals On Its Chin

By Sophie Bushwick | July 26, 2012 11:56 am

Phallostethus cuulong

Phallostethus cuulong was swimming quietly in Vietnam’s Mekong River, minding its own business, when humans discovered the fish in 2009. And now that researchers have described P. cuulong [pdf], we can’t help violating its privacy by gazing unabashed at its most interesting feature. That feature sits on the throat in the form of a priapium, an organ with as many parts as a Swiss Army knife, most of which contribute to a single function: making as many babies as possible.

P. cuulong is the most recently discovered species of 22 known priapiumfish, a family whose males have replaced their penises with muscular priapia, formed from the modified bones of the pectoral and pelvic fins. In addition to an anal opening and a genital pore, the priapium includes a rod and a serrated hook for grabbing a female’s head to keep her throat, and its oviduct opening, close to the genital pore. A firm grip lets the priapium fertilize the female internally without losing too many sperm. Although it sounds uncomfortable, this mating method is actually very effective: Researchers have found female priapiumfish with full oviducts, ensuring that just about all of their eggs get fertilized. Gives a whole new meaning to the term “necking,” doesn’t it?

[via Running Ponies at Scientific American]

Image: L.X. Tran

MORE ABOUT: fish, mating, priapium
  • http://twitter.com/roseywinter Esther Cotton

    I kind of… feel sick now… but interesting.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Simon-Balfre/100003355025190 Simon Balfre

    Reminds me of that line in Star Trek 6, “Not everyone
    keeps their genitals in the same place, Captain” :)

NEW ON DISCOVER
OPEN
CITIZEN SCIENCE
ADVERTISEMENT

Discover's Newsletter

Sign up to get the latest science news delivered weekly right to your inbox!

Discoblog

Quirky, funny, and surprising science news from the edge of the known universe.
ADVERTISEMENT

See More

ADVERTISEMENT
Collapse bottom bar
+

Login to your Account

X
E-mail address:
Password:
Remember me
Forgot your password?
No problem. Click here to have it e-mailed to you.

Not Registered Yet?

Register now for FREE. Registration only takes a few minutes to complete. Register now »