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Male Fish Grows Genitals That Counter Female Attempts To Resist Intercourse

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RALEIGH, N.C. (CBS Charlotte) - The males of a newly discovered species of fish have developed genitals that allow them to grip a female’s reproductive organs during sex, to prevent her from fighting him off.

Researchers at North Carolina State University were intrigued when they discovered that the male llanos mosquitofish, a Mexican freshwater fish known also as the Gambusia quadruncus, has four hooks on its genitals.

Lead researcher Brian Langerhans explained that the hooks may have formed as a way around the female’s bodily defense against mating with undesirable males of the species.

“Typically, reproduction is more costly in females, so females favor ways of reducing mating with ‘lower quality’ males,” Langerhans told LiveScience. “[B]ut reproduction is cheap in males and so selection favors ways of mating with as many females as possible.”

The females are said to be equipped with a ball of tissue that hinders access to the genital pore, making it impossible for males to mate with them without the female purposefully allowing the male to do so.

What Langerhans and his team found were that the four-hooked genitals of the male could push past the protective tissue barrier and latch onto the pore, where the sperm can then be deposited.

However, according to the website ZME Science, there may be another explanation.

Langerhans reportedly added, “Or [the male's hooked genitalia] may serve to stimulate the female in a manner that causes responses in the female that facilitate effective sperm transfer.”

The findings about the species and its mating habits were published in the Journal of Fish Biology.

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