April 26, 2006

"The Painful Realities of Hyena Sex."

See what I found for you? An article about the painful realities of hyena sex:
[I]n the final stages of pregnancy, high-ranking females provide their developing offspring with higher levels of androgen—a male sex hormone associated with aggression—than lower-ranking mothers provide to their developing young....

But providing the extra hormones takes a toll on the mother. The dose of androgen that she received from her own alpha mother damages her ovaries, making it difficult to conceive.

It also causes female reproductive organs to grow. A lot. Her clitoris, which contains the birthing canal, protrudes 7 inches from her body.

"Imagine giving birth through a penis," said study co-author Kay Holekamp of Michigan State University. "It's really weird genitalia, but it seems to work. Although giving birth through a 'penis' isn't a trivial problem."
And now it's a problem that you can think about.

34 comments:

Wickedpinto said...

then why do they laugh?

Ann Althouse said...

To keep from crying?

$CAV3NG3R said...

All time best comeback I've seen on this blog so far! I'm laughing so hard, I'm crying.

AJ Lynch said...

Ann:
You gotta be psychic. I swear I was just wondering about this very subject!

boringmadedull said...

Well, thank goodness I've already had dinner... And to think that without the miracle of the internet, I would likely have gone to my grave without aquiring this essential knowledge.

The Drill SGT said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
The Drill SGT said...

On the other hand, sex for the alpha female must be exciting if she has a 7" clit.

I was struck by two other facets of the article that got less focus, and since we're in a kinky mood here:

1. The look of the penis that was "upward and backward pointing".

2. If her alpha cubs start practicing mounting females early and often, it's pretty disgusting to consider who the most available and willing "mounting dummy" might be.

Thanks to our hostess for this most informative topic. It was a nagging hole in my zoology knowledge.

SippicanCottage said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ann Althouse said...

Sip: See the next post.

Maxine Weiss said...

Ann, I can't believe you use anatomically correct terminology for private parts. Why?

You don't have the nerve to use the slang, common terminology for privates?

....Even if we are talking about Hyenas.

I dare you.

Peace, Maxine

Icepick said...

And now it's a problem that you can think about.

The HELL you say!

Maxine Weiss said...

er, ....I mean the article.

Really though. It would certainly liven up all that dry science talk if they'd just use the slang terms.

"The male hyena puts his ____ into the female hyena's _____.....etc, etc."

I had a Biology teacher who used all generic, slang terms for genitals.

Nobody complained, and it really enlivened the material.

But, that was in the days before p.c.-ness

Peace, Maxine

MadisonMan said...

I'm not sure why talk about hyena sex has to be enlivened, actually. Perhaps you can elaborate, Maxine. :)

I'm not surprised that a lawyer would use clinical language, as it is the most precise language.

Ann Althouse said...

What I find most interesting is that the female is deploying the male hormones that keep her lineage dominant -- at great personal sacrifice to her, wrecking her sex organs for the family good. Of course, none of it is voluntary.

Marghlar said...

And now it's a problem that you can think about.

No. That's simply impossible. I've tried to think about this, but the only thing my brain can produce is:

Ow...

Ow...

OW!

I mean, it frequently RIPS THE CLITORIS APART.

Sweet Fancy Moses.

Jay Solo said...

What happens is the first pup a female hyena ever has almost always dies during the birth, but accomplishes the task of paving the way for subsequent pups to make it through. It's very weird.

Aspasia M. said...

oh my, oh my, oh my.


Uterine replicators anybody?

al said...

I always try and learn something new every day. Why did this have to be it? The title just drags you in to read...

Wickedpinto said...

It is an odd biological quirk Ann (gimme creds for getting it right this time) and the insinuation in the article is that it's getting worse.

As far as the production of the male hormone, thats not uncommon, women, as in humans, go through cycles that temporarily SUPPRESS the production of estrogen, and replace the necessary physical stimuli with the non sexual hormone, which name I forget (as I understand) though not nearly to the same degree.

Perhaps the matriarch is trying to promote the production of males, which doesn't seem right, because I remember in a bio/zoo class from highschool, I watched the documentary "eternal enemies" about Lions and Hyena's, you know the one with antwadimaela (he who walks with fire, I believe is the translation) as the prime male lion. Anyways, the female hyena's are just as active in the hounding of the lions and other fights, though men are more aggressive.

Maybe the reason that hyena's have created a female dominant, and breeder profile (though that profile isn't absolute, other females sometimes mate, though they are often chased out (if I remember correctly) when they dare to become fertile, anyways, maybe they became a Matriarchial pack is because the dominant female, with the production of excessive male hormones, is identified as a top male competitor. Perhaps some odd mutation from forever ago, where a female ended up not just suppressing female hormones at the time of fertility, but compensating with an excessive release of male hormones, making them ultra sexy, and also, ultra "tough male" or whatever, so that now, all hyena's are now just as bad ass as the men, and the men just love those lovely huge lady parts.

I don't know, but there are a lot of bizarre aspects about it, especially considering that since hyena's are Mammals, they aren't THAT far related from us, no matter how big their chickdicks. (does that offend?

Maxine Weiss said...

I'm telling you all....if street slang were used you'd all be titillated by now.

Truly, I had an 8:00 am high-school biology course taught by a little old lady (back then 60-year-olds didn't look the way they do today)......who used nothing but street slang to describe the various parts.

It certainly woke all of us at that hour of the morning.

Pretty trippy, and of course, she got away with it because of her age. If it had been a young, good-looking guy, I'm sure someone would've complained. Maybe not.

It makes a difference.

You want to make this stuff sexy....use spicy language to describe it.

Just like they do in those racy bodice-rippers!

Peace, Maxine

Townleybomb said...

With all due respect Maxine, there is not a word in the English language that is going to make giving birth through a hemorrhaging penis sexy, unless you are one of those creepy anime tenticle people.

Alan Kellogg said...

Now consider the predicament of the golden mole. A primative insectivore from Africa that has a cloaca. Yep, piss, shit, and puppies through the same hole. And not the eggs of a monotreme, or the comparatively undeveloped young of a marsupial, we're talking fairly well developed kids here.

"Ma! Did you have to take a dump before giving birth to me?"

Aspasia M. said...

all hyena's are now just as bad ass as the men, and the men just love those lovely huge lady parts.

Hyena reproduction gives that song, "my humps" with the refrain something about the "lovely lady lumps" by Black Eye Peas all new meaning.

(Mr. Geo just told me that Slate called this song the "stupidest" song of this decade. He says you can feel your brain disintigrate as you listen to the song.)

Maxine Weiss said...

townley: Apparently, the hyenas don't mind:, ("that laugh....that laugh that wrinkles their nose....tearing my world apart....ladedede da") so why should we?

I'm coming back as a hyena, and trip everyone out with my laugh!

Peace, Maxine

vbspurs said...

Why am I suddenly reminded of that god-awful/can't-turn-away-from scene with that old crone masturbating?

I guess reading this blogpost, is the intellectual equivalent of watching a 90 year-old pleasure herself.

Fascinating, yet very very painful.

Cheers,
Victoria

vbspurs said...

Why am I suddenly reminded of that god-awful/can't-turn-away-from scene with that old crone masturbating?

Erm, in the movie "Kinsey", I mean.

Yeah, that's the ticket.

Michael Farris said...

They have a nice graphic here:

http://www.livescience.com/php/multimedia/imagedisplay/img_display.php?pic=060426_female_hyena_02.jpg&cap=Illustration+of+female+hyena%27s+reproductive+system%2C+including+the+elongated+clitoris.+Credit%3A+Kay+Holekamp%27s+laboratory%2C+Michigan+State+University

I have to admit, for a fleeting second I was considering making this my new wallpaper...

Ehud Blade said...

Mad Max(ine),

You're disgusting as can be. Why? You're disgusting as can be.

You know how many men wish they had a seven inch penis?

Now, here's a woman with one.

37383938393839383938383 said...

What I find most interesting is that the female is deploying the male hormones that keep her lineage dominant -- at great personal sacrifice to her, wrecking her sex organs for the family good. Of course, none of it is voluntary.

You know, you don't consent to random inheritance from billionaire relatives you didn't realize you had. And you do consent to dentral dirlling. So I'm not so sure why consent is the end all and be all.

Al Maviva said...

I think if I was a woman Hyena, I'd probably look to get into cross dressing or some oher deviant activity, and just avoid the normal pickup scene around the local gazelle carcas. "Hey, why is Alvina dressed up as a Wildebeast?" "I dunno. It's pretty weird." "Yeah, amazing how some people get their kicks, huh?" "Yeah, I just don't get it."

On the other hand, it could be that we're all anthropomorphising just a wee bit excessively here. It's possible that hyenas don't worry about all this too much, and have evolved some coping mechanism. Hey, I wonder if there's anything hallucenogenic about a three day old Gnu carcass...

Ehud Blade said...

Critical Observer,

With two billion base pairs forming our combinatorics, we're all inheritors of billionaires in the random heritance of assortative mating.

It's not like hyenas evidence consent by signing pre-nups, and even if they did, we still wouldn't know what it's like to a hyena to be a hyena in a hyena-consenting cosmos (a nod to Nagel's essay on bats).

In a Posner-Benthemite economics-of-consent transaction, female hyena consent to sex could be a separate stage than her consent to the deployment of lineage dominant hormones (pretending there's a naturopathic morning-after hyena pill); but, as a strictly adaptive feature, the mother might want to know whether her decision to forgo the expense of hormone investment to avoid personal harm to herself would outweigh the corresponding decrease in survival chances (survival = viability to reproduction) of her lineage.

Even if specific individuals in the populations of human and hyenas might make such calculations, it's arguable whether whole populations could do so, since strong evidence of metrics in kin selected reciprocal altruism hints that altruistic forms of self-sacrifice are hard wired, and that without benefit of reading Cicero on maternal love.

While the economics of love are murky, the case for evolutionary love is open.

Likely as life is an open process.

Drew W said...

I no longer wonder why so many hyenas prefer to "go the adoption route."

Gerry said...

"It also causes female reproductive organs to grow. A lot. Her clitoris, which contains the birthing canal, protrudes 7 inches from her body.

"Imagine giving birth through a penis," said study co-author Kay Holekamp of Michigan State University."

Um... Is she suggesting that babies normally come out of the clitoris?

Ben said...

That's right Gerry

What's equally amazing is how the hyenas have sex. The female hyena has a 7 inch long clitoris and no vagina.

.."The female's bizarre reproductive tract, entered and exited through the phallus instead of directly-the vagina entrance being blocked by a false scrotum and testes-makes copulation complicated. When hyenas mate, only the male has an erection-the female's phallus is slack, the prepuce a wrinkled ring around the enlarged urethra. The male has only to slide beneath the female to enter, an operation assisted by the upward angle of the fully erect penis; following which, he straightens into a normal mating stance.
Female dominance imposes unusual diffidence and patience on males. Their obvious fear of female aggression makes courtship an often amusing spectacle."..

http://blindftp.exis.net/~spook/hyenatxt.html