In the end, all ᴘ ᴇ.ɴ ɪ ses share the same purpose: to pᴀss on genes and make sure a new generation of critters is born. But why limit its use? That seems to be the mindset of these animals with Swiss Army ᴘ ᴇ.ɴ ɪ ses.
1. A Duck ᴘ ᴇ.ɴ ɪ s Can Double As A Lᴀsso
Duck ᴘ ᴇ.ɴ ɪ ses are pretty wild. They’re shaped like corkscrews – the better to navigate female ducks’ labyrinthine, ᴅᴇᴀᴅ-end filled ᴠᴀɢɪɴᴀs. But the Argentine duck has another use for his ᴘ ᴇ.ɴ ɪ s.
This species has an especially long ᴘ ᴇ.ɴ ɪ s, which scientists believe it uses to lᴀsso and subdue female ducks in order to ᴍᴀᴛᴇ with them. It’s also covered in spikes, which helps keep them connected during s.ᴇ x.
2. The Echidna Has A Multi-Headed ᴘ ᴇ.ɴ ɪ s
The echidna is not the largest of animals, but its ᴘ ᴇ.ɴ ɪ s is impressive nonetheless. It doesn’t have just one head – it has four. These heads all pump semen into the female, but it can only get two heads in there at a time.
Scientists think that the configuration may have something to do with making the sᴘᴇʀᴍ swim faster. It makes sense, since s.ᴇ x is highly competitive in the echidna world; as many as 11 males may wait in line to ᴍᴀᴛᴇ with a female.
3. Bed Bug ᴘ ᴇ.ɴ ɪ ses Come Equipped With Sensors
Bed bugs are not loving creatures. The first time a male ɪɴsᴇᴍɪɴᴀᴛes a female, it unloads a large amount of ᴇjᴀᴄᴜʟᴀᴛᴇ into its ᴍᴀᴛᴇ after sᴛᴀʙbing its abdomen. The female’s immune system then tries to ᴅᴇsᴛʀᴏʏ as much of the ᴇjᴀᴄᴜʟᴀᴛᴇ as possible.
When another bed bug ᴍᴀᴛᴇs with the female, the special hairs on his ᴘ ᴇ.ɴ ɪ s act as sensors and tell if it’s been with another bed bug first. Then, it triggers the ᴘ ᴇ.ɴ ɪ s to only release a little ᴇjᴀᴄᴜʟᴀᴛᴇ instead of the full load, since its immune system won’t ᴅᴇsᴛʀᴏʏ it.
4. An Elephant’s ᴘ ᴇ.ɴ ɪ s Acts Like A Second Trunk
If you thought elephants had just one trunk, you’d be wrong.
An elephant’s ᴘ ᴇ.ɴ ɪ s can be mᴀssive – in some cases, bigger than an entire human being. It can also move around like a trunk, which means it can wrap around objects and pick them up.
5. A Dragonfly’s ᴘ ᴇ.ɴ ɪ s Doubles As A Scoop
Dragonfly ᴍᴀᴛɪɴɢ is a complicated and acrobatic affair. It’s also extremely competitive, with several male dragonflies all going after the same females.
That’s why males developed a handy scoop in their ᴘ ᴇ.ɴ ɪ ses to take out any sᴘᴇʀᴍ they find in their partner before laying down their own.
6. Flatworms Use Their ᴘ ᴇ.ɴ ɪ ses In Sword Fights
When you have both male and female s.ᴇ x ᴏʀɢᴀɴs, deciding who is going to have the babies can get pretty complicated. Luckily, the flatworm has developed a unique way of deciding who will be the mother: a sword fight.
The ᴍᴀᴛɪɴɢ process for the flatworm involves both parties trying to sᴛᴀʙ each other with their ᴘ ᴇ.ɴ ɪ ses. The duel can last an hour, with multiple ᴘ ᴇ.ɴ ɪ s sᴛᴀʙs for each party, but the minute one is successfully ɪɴsᴇᴍɪɴᴀᴛᴇᴅ, they both take on the requisite gender roles.
7. Dolphins Have Prehensile ᴘ ᴇ.ɴ ɪ ses
Dolphins are incredibly smart animals, which may explain why they have minds about as fɪʟᴛʜʏ as humans’. Their ᴘ ᴇ.ɴ ɪ ses are not only retractable, but also prehensile. That means they can use their members to pick up objects.
But mostly, dolphins use their ᴘ ᴇ.ɴ ɪ ses to attempt to ᴍᴀᴛᴇ with anything and everything in sight. They’ve even been known to hump humans.
8. Spider ᴘ ᴇ.ɴ ɪ ses Are Detachable
Female insects frequently devour their ᴍᴀᴛᴇs right after s.ᴇ x. The practice is familiar to arachnids too – in fact, the male orb spider has developed a detachable ᴘ ᴇ.ɴ ɪ s to avoid just such a fate. The male spider attempts to break his ᴘ ᴇ.ɴ ɪ s off inside the female and run away. If it is successful, it stays within a certain distance to guard its ᴍᴀᴛᴇ from other spiders looking to dislodge its member.
Strangely enough, the ᴄᴀsᴛʀᴀᴛᴇᴅ spiders usually win the fights against their endowed brethren. Apparently, the weight ʟᴏss from snapping off their ᴘ ᴇ.ɴ ɪ ses makes them more agile.
9. A Tapir Can Scratch Itself With Its ᴘ ᴇ.ɴ ɪ s
Tapir ᴘ ᴇ.ɴ ɪ ses are several feet long and enormous in proportion to their bodies.
These highly mobile members swing around easily and can be made perpendicular to the tapir’s body. The animal can even scratch itches with it.