"duck penis"

Use VR to travel through a duck's amazing vagina

The internet is perpetually amused and fascinated by the crazy, corkscrewing duck penis, but commonsense dictates that if fella ducks have crazy willies, then lady ducks will have equally amazing hoo-hahs. Read the rest

Why government-funded duck penis research is a good thing

Apparently, some segments of the media are just catching up to The Great Duck Penis Meme of 2007 and the video-enhanced version from 2009. If you've somehow managed to erase this from your memory (and lucky you), it turns out that duck penises are pretty freaky looking and can teach us a lot about how evolution works. Like a lot of basic research — the stuff that isn't directly about creating new products — duck penis studies have been funded by federal science grants. And this has put science writer Carl Zimmer in the awkward position of sticking up for duck erections. In a great piece at The Loom, he explains why silly-sounding research matters and why duck penises are not a waste of your tax dollars. Read the rest

Maggie talking about animal sex on the Sex Is Fun podcast

I recorded a special guest appearance on Sex Is Fun, a podcast about sex education, sexual behavior, and dirty jokes. Naturally, I'm there to talk about science. Specifically, the science of animals having sex with other animals. Why is one species of Australian beetles having sex with beer bottles? How do a group of professional sex educators react to hearing about the duck penis story for the first time? Listen to the show! (Note: Show not safe for small children and/or coworkers.)  Read the rest

Tomorrow is Dead Duck Day

First, there was that duck penis video and the related news that duck life is so full of rape that female ducks have evolved corkscrew vaginas replete with dead ends.

Now this.

Marc Abrahams of the IgNobel awards wrote today to inform me that tomorrow is Dead Duck Day, an annual event celebrated at the Natural History Museum in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. What, pray tell, does Dead Duck Day celebrate? Marc says:

It's the anniversary of the first known observation of homosexual necrophilia in the mallard duck.

I seriously can't even look at ducks anymore.

Anyway, this observation won museum curator Kees Moeliker an IgNobel back in 2003. Since then, he's commemorated the sacrifice made by the poor duck in question with what is variously described as a memorial service or re-enactment (?!)—followed by an all-duck dinner at a local Chinese restaurant.

Have a great weekend, everybody.

Ducks: Basically the John Wayne Gacy of the animal kingdom. Image courtesy Flickr user hvargas, via CC

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Odd search queries

There is at least one blog comprising solely of the search queries used to find it other things on the net. Also, here is a current sampling of interesting search terms that people typed into Google as an immediate prelude to visiting Boing Boing.

5. Haarp conspiracy 9. boin 29. naked kids 41. what english sounds like to foreigners 53. duck penis 69. how to make cocaine 86. я оченÑŒ Ñ€ад, ведÑŒ я, наконец, возвÑ€ащаюсь домой 106. space porn 134. full body scanner images 148. what is an ipad 162. report someone dead on facebook 192. nazi jokes 221. internet is tubes

That last one should be a Gary Numan song! Also, can you guess what rank is occupied by people who typed the actual domain name into Google? We have had hundreds of thousands of those. Read the rest

Duck Sex: Competition between sexes leads to crazy anatomy

Eversion in air: from blogs.discovermagazine.com/loom from Carl Zimmer on Vimeo.

That, ladies and gentlemen, is a duck penis. Science blogger Ed Yong has a great article up today about these freaky, corkscrew behemoths and the equally freaky, labyrinthine duck vaginas. A researcher from Yale has been studying both, and thinks these rather baroque naughty bits evolved in competition with one another, as female ducks tried to evade rape (or, rather, impregnation by a rapist) and male ducks tried to get around those barriers.

The shape of the female duck's vagina is a physical barrier that prevents the male from launching forth his ballistic penis to its fullest extent. It won't stop a drake from ejaculating (and those in Brennan's trials always did), but it does limit how far the semen is deposited along the vaginal tract. Not all males are hit equally hard by these defences. Those that the female actually wants to mate with have an easier time. If she's into a male, she strikes a pose that signals her receptiveness, keeping her body level and lifting her tail feathers high. She repeatedly contracts the walls of her genital tract, relaxing them for long enough for favoured suitors to achieve full penetration.

Males who try to force themselves upon her receive no such help and have to cope with vigorous struggling. The female may not be able to resist such advances, but her convoluted vagina gives her ultimate control over where the sperm of her current partner ends up.

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