Scientists find clitorises on female snakes


Photo by Tim Brammer

Scientists in Australia have discovered that female snakes have clitorises. The discovery which shatters a long-held assumption that female snakes did not have a sexual organ have established that snakes do not have one but two individual clitorises.

The scientists from School of Biological Sciences at University of Adelaide have successfully located the clitoris in a female snake’s tail.

Snake penises – hemipenes – have been studied for decades. They are forked and some are embedded with spikes.

But the female sex organ was previously “overlooked in comparison”.

“There was a combination of female genitalia being taboo, scientists not being able to find it, and people accepting the mislabelling of intersex snakes,” said Megan Folwell, lead scientist on the study.

“It wasn’t necessarily that it was elusive – rather, scientists weren’t really looking for it” reads a report by the BBC.

“Across the animal kingdom female genitalia are overlooked in comparison to their male counterparts,” said Ms Folwell.

The research involved examination of female genitalia in adult snake specimens across nine species, compared to adult and juvenile male snake genitalia.

“Our study counters the long-standing assumption that the clitoris (hemiclitores) is either absent or non-functional in snakes.”

The scientists discovered that snakes have two individuals clitorises.

“Snakes have two individual clitorises – hemiclitores – separated by tissue and hidden on the underside of the tail. The double-walled organ is composed of nerves, collagen and red blood cells consistent with erectile tissue” BBC cites the study.

The study has been published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B Journal.

The scientists studied snakes such as the Puff Adder species found in Malawi.

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