Science Online 2010 Brain Bubbles: Duck Genitalia Doggerel

As has been amply twittered, (search #scio10), one of the hit of this years Science Online conference has been Carl Zimmer’s account of the extraordinary sexual equipment of ducks.

Not only did it serve as an object lesson (and what an object!–ed.) on the intricacies of science journalism in the age of the web, it became a running theme throughout an evening in which the tool a duck’s penis most resembles received an excellent work-out.

My own response?

Why a limerick, of course.

So, for all of you who sadly had to miss this most excellent meeting, I offer you this take-home.  With no apologies.

There once was a mallard quite amorous

Whose genitalia were certainly glamorous

But its left handed screw

Rotating quite true,

Brought results that were sadly calamitous.*

*The calamity here implied could either be the destruction of the silicone vagina used in early versions of the experiment in question, or from the implications of the idea being tested that the co-evolution of duck penises and vaginas occurred in the midst of sexual competition to enable or prevent forced copulation. For the detailed account of the experiment in question — here’s the paper.

Update: Via @JBYoder, this. You will all be punished until moral improves.

Image: Song Dynasty (960-1229) album painting of a duck.

Explore posts in the same categories: Brain bubbles, Cool Animals, evolution, geek humor, Sex, Uncategorized

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6 Comments on “Science Online 2010 Brain Bubbles: Duck Genitalia Doggerel”

  1. Ian Preston Says:

    It is thought that so she can resist
    When the too-eager male duck persists
    The she-duck has evolved
    Spiral ducts that revolve
    In the opposite sense to his twists.


  2. This may be amusing to all of you. But now every time I introduce myself to someone, I always have to add “But don’t let the last name fool you.”


  3. […] Rebooting science journalism: Ed Yong, Carl Zimmer, John Timmer, and David Dobbs led discussion about the future of science journalism online, with emphasis on unique ways to connect the diverse and Balkanized interest groups of the web to science news, and an extensive aside on the recently discovered role of sexual selection in the morphology of ducks’ penises and vaginas – Carl wasn’t able to publish much detail via a print magazine, but (perhaps unsurprisingly) the story proved popular online. This set off a flurry of interest in the article in question, and revealed I’m not the only one who thought this phenomenon makes limerick fodder. […]


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