Acanthophis antarcticus, a dead adder snake, is credited.
In a first-of-its-kind investigation, an international group of researchers led by the University of Adelaide has provided the first anatomical description of the female snake clitoris.
In a first-of-its-kind experiment, an international group of researchers led by the University of Adelaide has provided the first anatomical description of the female snake clitoris.
Megan Folwell, a PhD candidate at the University of Adelaide's School of Biological Sciences, was the primary investigator.
"In comparison to their male counterparts, female genitalia is overlooked," according to Ms. Folwell.
"Our research refutes the old understanding that snakes' clitoris (hemiclitores) are either absent or non-functional."
The study involved the examination of adult snake specimens from nine species, as well as adult and juvenile male snake genitalia.
“We discovered that the heart-shaped snake hemiclitores is composed of nerves and red blood cells consistent with erectile tissue, which suggests it may swell and become stimulated during mating,” according to Associate Professor Kate Sanders of the University of Adelaide. This is important because snake mating is often thought to be related to sexual coercion rather than seduction.”
"Our investigation has provided accurate anatomical descriptions and labels for the female snake genitalia. We may use our findings to investigate more fully the systematics, reproductive evolution, and ecology of snake-like reptiles, such as lizards."
The paper was published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B Journal on December 14, 2022.
"We are honored to contribute to this study, especially considering that female genitalia across all mammals are unfortunately still taboo," said Ms. Folwell.
Professor Sanders said the study would not have taken place if Ms. Folwell had a fresh perspective on genital evolution.
"This discovery illustrates how science requires diverse opinions and opinions to advance," said the author.
Acanthophis antarcticus (also known as the Death adder), Pseudechis colleti, Pseudechis weigeli, and Pseudonaja ingrami (native to different parts of Australia), the Agkistrodon bilineatus (native to Mexico and Central America as far south as Honduras), Helicops polylepis (native to semiarid regions of Africa and Arabia), and Morelia s
Megan J. Folwell, Patricia L. R. Brennan, and Jenna M. Crowe-Riddell, "First evidence of hemiclitores in snakes," in Proceedings of the Royal Society B Biological Sciences, 14 December 2022. DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2022.1702.
This research was sponsored by Holyoake College in Massachusets, La Trobe University's School of Agriculture, the South Australian Museum, and the University of Michigan's Museum of Ecology and the Area of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology.