A new study helps examine how mechanical interactions during copulation influence the shape of genitalia and fertility in cetaceans. Researchers used samples of cetacean genitalia acquired after the animals’ natural cause death. The scientists inflated excised penises using a saline solution to simulate an erection, and studied its interaction with silicone endocasts of vaginas in dice contrast-enhanced CT scans during simulated copulation. Observations obtained during simulated intercourse suggest both congruent and antagonistic genital coevolution in cetaceans, depending on the species.


Dara N. Orbach, Diane A. Kelly, Mauricio Solano, Patricia L. R. Brennan

Corresponding author: 

Dara Orbach, Department of Biology, Life Science Centre, Dalhousie University, Halifax, NS, Email: dnorbach@gmail.com

Original paper published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences on October 11, 2017.