Subtle female shapes and even highway planning could affect evolution
Joel Garlich Miller, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service/ Wikimedia Commons
PORTLAND, Ore. — Crazily diverse shapes of male genitals across the animal kingdom — from curlicues and Y-tubes to multiknobbed, tendrilly whazzits — may evolve faster than any other animal structures. Biologists have spent more than a century debating how to explain such fast and extreme variation.
Now it’s time to search for explanations in two overlooked places: the female side of sex and the vast variety of places where animals live, researchers proposed early January at the annual meeting of the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology.
Figuring out why male genitals of a species often differ sharply from even its closest relatives’ involves basic, big ideas in biology, said Brandon Moore of Sewanee: The University of the South in Tennessee, who coorganized a symposium on genital diversity. Species arise, flourish or fail depending on whether animals mate and produce offspring or not. “This is where the