Tons of Other Animals Have Clitoris – and They Can Teach Us About Human Sexuality

A common death pit viper hiding in leaf litter.Auscape Group/Universal Images via Getty Images

  • Many animals have clitoris, a female sex organ, but experts say they’re understudied.

  • Scientists have recently discovered that female snakes have a two-part clitoris.

  • Knowing more about sex organs in the animal kingdom could teach us more about human anatomy.

Scientists know a lot about the male reproductive organs of animals. But compared to the penis, the clitoris is shrouded in mystery.

The penis and the clitoris develop from the same tissue, so they share many similarities. Understanding these structures in depth not only reveals the biology and evolution of sex organs in the animal kingdom, it can teach us more about our own sexuality.

“In biology, we have for many, many decades, if not centuries, taken the male body as the norm. The female is like the odd deviation,” Patricia Brennan, a genital morphologist at Mount Holyoke College, told Insider. “For many years, I have tried to fill in these unknown areas of female reproductive biology.”

She said she has seen increased interest in the field in recent years, mostly from young female researchers. “I think they will be the ones who can answer a lot of questions in the years to come.”

Brennan said the clitoris is found in all terrestrial vertebrates, including lizards, snakes, crocodiles, turtles and mammals. The only known exception is birds.

From snakes to bottlenose dolphins, here are some of the most impressive and interesting clitoris in the animal kingdom.

Also, in case you were wondering (we were), the plural form of “clitoris” is “clitorises”. “Clitorides” is also acceptable if you want to get more technical.

Scientists have discovered clitoris in female snakes

Image of a horizontal slice of a snake's abdomen, showing its hemiclitoris, labeled HC.

Image of a horizontal slice of a snake’s abdomen, showing its hemiclitoris, labeled HC.Megan Folwell

In December, researchers provided the first major description of the female snake’s clitoris.

In a study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, scientists examined nine species of snakes from different parts of the world, including Australia, Central America and South America.

They found that all of the female snakes studied had a pair of clitoris – or hemiclitores, a two-part clitoris.

“We found them in every species we looked at,” said Brennan, co-author of the study. “This is actually the first morphological description of a snake having a clitoris.”

Using modern anatomical tools, researchers closely studied the cellular composition of the clitoris in Australian death pit vipers, a species of venomous snake. They discovered that it was made up of erectile tissue and bundles of nerves.

Brennan said the fact that snake species have intersex individuals has increased confusion about the creature’s genitals over the years.

Lizards have 2-part clitoris that they can fit inside their bodies

Arboreal alligator lizard

An arboreal alligator lizard, one of the creatures known to have a two-part clitoris.K Hanley CHDPhoto/Shutterstock

Like snakes, their closest cousins ​​- lizards – have a two-part hemiclitoris.

They were first described in female monitor lizards in 1995 as “miniaturized mirror images of male hemipenes”.

Brennan said lizard hemiclitores are reversible, meaning they can be flipped out of the body and re-entered.

Bonobos rub their enlarged clits against each other

Bonobo monkeys, Congo's unique primates and humanity's closest relative, groom each other at a sanctuary just outside the capital Kinshasa, Congo October 31, 2006. REUTERS/Finbarr O' Reilly/File Photo

Bonobos are known to rub their clitoris on top of each other.Thomson Reuters

Female bonobos have enlarged clitoris between their legs. They rub their clitoris on each other – a process called genito-genital rubbing.

Scientists perceive it as a greeting or an effort to diffuse tension.

Spotted hyenas have 8 inch clitoris

Spotted hyenas in Ethiopia

The clitoris of a female spotted hyena is perhaps the largest in the animal kingdom.Eric Lafforgue/Art in All of Us/Corbis via Getty Images

A hyena’s clitoris extends about 8 inches from its body and comes with a pair of what look like testicles but are actually their labia fused together, researchers say. They use it to pee and copulate.

Additionally, the hyena’s clitoris also has a birth canal, which is only an inch in diameter, Insider previously reported. Therefore, pushing a bear cub through this channel can often be fatal.

Bottlenose dolphins have clitoris that could be for sexual pleasure

A bottlenose dolphin photographed in the Moray Firth, Scotland.

A bottlenose dolphin photographed in the Moray Firth, Scotland. Researchers believe that the dolphin’s clitoris provides pleasure during sex.Getty Images

Female bottlenose dolphins have human-like clitoris.

In a January 2022 study, Brennan and other researchers analyzed the clitorises of 11 female bottlenose dolphins who died of natural causes.

Their findings suggest that, like those of human females, the dolphin’s clitoris provides pleasure during sex.

Read the original article on Business Insider

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *