Sea Slug’s ‘Disposable Penis’ Surprises
The sex life of the sea slug is complicated even before detachable organs come into play.
Almost all of these creatures, which are also known as nudibranchs, are thought to be “simultaneous hermaphrodites”. This means they have both male and female sexual organs and can use them both at the same time.
Bernard Picton, curator of marine invertebrates at the National Museums Northern Ireland, explained: “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.”
But the finding that one species has added another layer of complexity to copulation surprised the sea slug expert.
The act took between a few seconds and a few minutes, after which the creatures would push away and shed their penises, leaving them on the floor of the tank.
However, the researchers were surprised to discover that just 24-hours later, the sea slugs had regenerated their male organs and were able to mate again
Fun to speculate how society would have evolved were humans imbued with such…sexual versatility.