Unfamiliar with duck loving? Here are the basics: Corkscrewed vaginas and long, temporary, lymph-filled penises that uncoil in fractions of a second. Now researchers have found that some males’ members grow longer when they’re fiercely competing for a mate.
The photo we have to illustrate this magnificent mating equipment is so graphic–in a duck kind of way–that we’re putting it below the jump. As Carl Zimmer memorably put it when writing on the kinkiness of duck sex, it may not be “appropriate for ducklings.”
There’s that old saying about the futility of a bird and a fish falling in love. Apparently, two birds might not fair any better: Unlucky ducks from two different species are falling for the wrong women.
Actually, matchmaker Michael D. Sorenson of Boston University set them up at birth. In a foreign exchange program of sorts, his team took sixteen young male redheads (Aythya Americana) and sixteen young male canvasbacks (Aythya valisineria) and switched their homes, allowing canvasbacks to raise redhead ducklings and vice versa.
Sorenson wanted to study imprinting—when a young bird sees its caretaker and recognizes her as its mother. Determining what Mom looks like turns out to be important later in a bird’s life, as the duck uses its mother’s image to pick out mates.