Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Bang a Gong, Get It On . . .

Have you ever wondered about the mating habits of T. Rex? No, no, no - not that T. Rex, this T. Rex:

(Photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Not the most romantic visage in history, but there's someone for everybody, right? And it's nearly Valentine's Day to boot.

Over at The Wild Side, Olivia Judson speculates on the potential amorous adventures of the thunder lizard. It's a more difficult problem than you might imagine, as fossils are ill equipped to show the gender of most creatures and answer even the most basic of questions that might provide a hint. For instance - did the male T. Rex have a penis (and if so, would he have still been bombarded with male enhancement emails?)? And if so, what kind? These aren't questions with obvious answers:
I could answer a question that sometimes bothers me. Did T. rex have a penis? Did he even, as lizards do, have two?

I ask the question not out of prurience, but because it’s a matter of scientific interest. There are a couple of reasons why. First, the penis is another important indicator of the mating system. In species where females usually mate with a single male during a breeding episode, penises tend to be small and uninteresting. In those where females mate with several males (whether by choice or by force), penises are typically larger, and come with fancy decorations such as grooves, nobbles, and spikes. Second, the question of the dinosaur penis provides an exercise in evolutionary inference.
Judson figures he did, although she admits it is, at best, an "educated guess." One of her conclusions that it's hard to quibble with, however:
I imagine that when two T. rex got it on, the earth shook for miles around.

Grooves? Nobbles? SPIKES?!? Damn, there's some kinky critters out there!

1 comment:

Buzzardbilly said...

Two penises? And here I thought the prairie dog with his tri-penis set-up was a total anomaly.

Cats have spiky penises.

I know both of these penis set-ups because when I managed a pet store we had a prairie dog in the shop. I went to clean his pen one day and he was all curled around like a dog licking his goods. When he moved his head, I thought he was injured or something so I rushed to call the vet. They clued me in to the triple penis nature had gifted the prairie dog with.

The cat was the same way. Cleaning himself, looks up, I see the world's tiniest penis surrounded by a nest of spikes. I thought he had something stuck on him. Again, I called the vet.

I fear the vet thinks I have a fascination with critter peni.