[MARMAM] New publication: Genital interactions during simulated copulation among marine mammals

Dara Orbach dnorbach at gmail.com
Sun Oct 15 05:50:06 PDT 2017

Dear colleagues,

We are pleased to announce the following paper published in Proceedings of
the Royal Society of London B:

Genital interactions during simulated copulation among marine mammals

We will also be presenting the data at the upcoming Society for Marine
Mammalogy conference on Wednesday Oct 25th at 17:00 (Cetacean and pinniped
Kama Sutra: Copulatory fit amongst marine mammals)

Authors: Dara Orbach, Diane Kelly, Mauricio Solano, and Patricia Brennan

Genitalia are morphologically variable across many taxa and in physical
contact during intromission, but little is known about how variation in form
correlates with function during copulation. Marine mammals offer important
insights into the evolutionary forces that act on genital morphology because
they have diverse genitalia and are adapted to aquatic living and mating.
Cetaceans have a fibroelastic penis and muscular vaginal folds, while
pinnipeds have a baculum and lack vaginal folds. We examined copulatory fit
in naturally deceased marine mammals to identify anatomical landmarks
in contact during copulation and the potential depth of penile penetration
into the vagina. Excised penises were artificially inflated to erection with
pressurized saline and compared with silicone vaginal endocasts and within
excised vaginas in simulated copulation using high-resolution, diffusible
iodine-based, contrast-enhanced computed tomography. We found evidence
suggestive of both congruent and antagonistic genital coevolution, depending
on the species. We suggest that sexual selection influences morphological
shape. This study improves our understanding of howmechanical interactions
during copulation influence the shape of genitalia and affect fertility,
and has
broad applications to other taxa and species conservation.

Orbach DN, Kelly DA, Solano M, Brennan PLR. 2017 Genital interactions
during simulated copulation among marine mammals. Proc. R. Soc. B 284:
20171265. http://dx.doi.org/10.1098/rspb.2017.1265

Feel free to e-mail me at dnorbach at gmail.com for a PDF of the article.


Dara Orbach, PhD

Izaak Walton Killam Postdoctoral Fellow
Whitehead Lab
Department of Biology
Dalhousie University

Research Associate
Brennan Lab
Department of Biological Sciences
Mount Holyoke College
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