Parental Warning: Click on the link below for explicit photos of sea slug sex.
I read this article before I had coffee this morning. At first I found it deeply disturbing. Disposable penises! Nudibranchs! Simultaneous hermaphrodites! I was unprepared to read the following sentence: “This means they have both male and female sexual organs and can use them both at the same time.” I have read it several times now and am still unprepared. The mind whirls. What happened to Family Values?
The wave of the future? Or an evolutionary niche, possibly a dead end? So far sea slugs have not shown up much on the cultural radar.
But then I was reminded of Plato’s parable of sex and love, the original Ur-beings, half female and half male, each gender facing away from the other (so that group sex was always in the cards). Then they split and we are forever searching for our other half (the current state of things). Are the sea slugs Plato’s Ur-beings, the original happy little COMPLETE souls for whom all is LOVE?
“The genital apparatus is on the right hand side of the body. So two nudibranchs come together and one faces one way and one faces the other way, with the right hand side of their bodies touching. The penis from one fits into the female opening of the other one, and the penis from that one fits into the female opening of the first one, if you see what I mean. They are both donating sperm to the other one.”
Filthy, disgusting, I know. Obviously, sea slugs have not evolved a notable literature because they spend too much time trying to figure out how to have sex.
I am still wincing at the idea of disposable penises. I am going to have bad dreams tonight.
Japanese researchers observed the bizarre mating behaviour in a species called Chromodoris reticulata, which is found in the Pacific Ocean. They believe this is the first creature known that can repeatedly copulate with what they describe as a “disposable penis”.