Researchers in Australia have discovered clitorises in female snakes. The discovery has disproved the long-held belief that female snakes lacked a clitoris. They possess one.
The first accurate anatomical descriptions of the female snake genitalia were released in research on Wednesday.
Hemipenes, the penises of snakes, have been researched for many years. Some of them have spikes embedded, and they are forked.
However, researchers said the female sex organ had been “missed in comparison”. It wasn’t so much that it was difficult to find as that researchers weren’t looking for it.
As the lead researcher and doctorate candidate, Megan Folwell, explained, “There was a combination of taboo around female genitalia, scientists not being able to discover it, and people accepting the mislabelling of intersex snakes.”
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The clitoris of a female snake is found in the tail, according to her co-authored research just published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B Journal.
Snakes have two independent clitorises, called hemiclitores, which are concealed on the tail’s underside and divided by tissue. According to experts, the double-walled organ comprises neurons, collagen, and red blood cells, similar to the erectile tissue.
The material about snakes’ female sexual organs, which claimed that they were absent or had been bred out through evolution, “just didn’t quite sit right with me,” according to Ms. Folwell, who went seeking for it.
It doesn’t make logical that that wouldn’t be in all snakes, she added, “I know it [the clitoris] is in a lot of animals.”
She explained, “I just wanted to look to see if this building was there or if it had just been missed.”
She started on a death adder and quite quickly located the clitoris, a heart-shaped structure near the snake’s smell glands that are used to attract mates.
There was no indication of the [penis] structures I’ve observed before, but this double structure was pretty conspicuous in the female and quite different from that of the surrounding tissue.
Then, her team examined this in several snake species, including the carpet python, puff adder, and cantil viper. The hemiclitores were different and ranged in size.
The rewriting of snake sex
The discovery now opens the door for novel theories regarding snake sex, which may involve the stimulation and enjoyment of women.
According to Ms. Folwell, scientists previously thought snake sex was “primarily compulsion and the male snake forcing the mating.”
This was because while the female snake was more “placid,” male snakes were often extremely physically aggressive during mating.
However, she added, “Now that the clitoris has been discovered, we may focus more on seduction and stimulation as another form of the female being more willing and likely to mate with the male.”
Additionally, it sheds additional information on the theory of snake foreplay. Male snakes frequently wrap themselves around the clitoris on their partner’s tail and beat it.
Numerous behaviors could indicate they are present to arouse the female.
In the field of snake science, the discovery, according to Ms. Folwell, has received a positive response. There has been “some astonishment that it’s been missed for so long, but also surprising because it makes sense that it exists.”
She pointed out that the clitoris is tiny and delicate in some snake species, measuring less than a millimeter.
A common misconception was that, similar to monitor lizards; female snakes have a scaled-down version of the male hemipene. As a result, hemipenes were mistaken for hemiclitores in specific investigations of intersex snakes.
Without Ms. Folwell’s “new perspective,” according to Associate Prof Kate Sanders of the University of Adelaide, one of the other researchers working on the study, the discovery would not have been made.
This discovery demonstrates the necessity for varied brains and diverse perspectives in science.