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December 24, 2006 7:52 PM   Subscribe

Is there a species (mammal, reptile, amphibian, etc.) that has two functioning sexual organs?

Some one here at the party insists that there is a species in which both male and female has two of each (specifically two penis' for the male and two vaginas for the male. I personally would like to settle this topic before the presents are opened and before too much champagne is imbibed. It could get ugly here. Googling this isn't working.
posted by goalyeehah to Science & Nature (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite

 
Apparently a "businessman in India" had two working penises.
posted by baklavabaklava at 7:56 PM on December 24, 2006


Yes, he has been the topic of the conversation.
posted by goalyeehah at 7:58 PM on December 24, 2006


Marsupials have two vaginas (well, the females do). Males have a "forked" penis -- which I guess technically just counts as one, for some reason.
posted by SuperNova at 8:08 PM on December 24, 2006


Beat me to it. I found the marsupials

by googling "multiple sex organs" but not before I added -frogs because most of the articles were on frogs exposed to atrazine
posted by Listener at 8:10 PM on December 24, 2006


Slugs are hermaphroditic, but I don't know of anything that has TWO of each organ.
posted by biscotti at 8:14 PM on December 24, 2006


Reptiles have two hemipenes.
posted by caution live frogs at 8:38 PM on December 24, 2006


Back in September, a woman in London delivered 3 babies from her 2 wombs. (Twin girls from one womb, and a sister to them from her other womb.) The children spent the intervening 9 weeks in neo-natal care, but the story was all over the news a couple of days ago, when the babies came home, healthy.
posted by paulsc at 8:46 PM on December 24, 2006


Slightly different: slugs are bisexual. Each slug has both a male and a female organ. When they copulate, each fertilizes the other (simultaneously), and afterwards they both lay eggs.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 9:21 PM on December 24, 2006


Male sharks have two claspers
posted by borkencode at 9:48 PM on December 24, 2006


Earwigs have an extra penis. Immediately functional if the other one snaps off. OH, and, uh, ow. Oh, also their penises are as long as their bodies. (I only know this because I was recently watching back episodes of QI.
posted by smallerdemon at 10:50 PM on December 24, 2006


And maybe even more different: Komodo Dragons supposedly can have "virgin" births.
posted by wiggles at 2:03 AM on December 25, 2006


Pedantic point: slugs are hermaphroditic, not bisexual. I'm bisexual, and I'm pretty sure none of what Steven said applies to me.
posted by squidlarkin at 3:05 AM on December 25, 2006


Not just komodo dragons, but several lizard species have the ability of a female fertilizing her own eggs in the absence of a male.
posted by Atreides at 6:20 AM on December 25, 2006


squidlarkin, How do you know slugs are not hermaphroditic AND bisexual?
posted by Gungho at 6:45 AM on December 25, 2006


Earthworms and snails are also hermaphroditic. Although I don't know for slugs and snails, earthworms still need a partner for reproduction, even though both sets of parts are functional.
posted by plinth at 8:44 AM on December 25, 2006


Pedantic point: slugs are hermaphroditic, not bisexual.

Well, since the question has been answered, here's an even more pedantic point: "bisexual" is used in a lot of different ways in biology, including as a synonym for hermaphrodite, particularly in botany, where "bisexual flowers" are frequently discussed. But it's also used to define species that have two sexes, male and female, as in "humans are a bisexual species." Generally, though, hermaphrodite is the word for animals with both male and female reproductive organs, and bisexual should probably be reserved for other uses.
posted by mediareport at 12:01 PM on December 25, 2006


bisexual:
3. Biology. an animal or plant that has the reproductive organs of both sexes.
posted by Steven C. Den Beste at 2:03 PM on December 25, 2006


Right, Steven, we already covered that. But it's a confusing usage, and hermaphrodite really is the better term when talking about animals instead of plants, particularly given the multiple meanings of bisexual among the various animal/human sciences.
posted by mediareport at 3:00 PM on December 25, 2006


mediareport: "...particularly in botany, where "bisexual flowers" are frequently discussed."

The case that I think is more interesting (and actually sort of applicable to this question) are monoecious plants, for example zucchini. Each flower can only be male or female (never both on the same flower), but a single plant can (and almost always does) have both male and female flowers on it. The last time I grew zucchinis, I had problems getting any fruit until I pulled off the male flowers and.. er.. manually induced fertilization.
posted by Plutor at 5:38 AM on December 26, 2006


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