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Whale porn

January 24, 2011

Right whales were not so named because they have eight-foot long, flexible penises. The photo left shows two of those, snaking their way simultaneously into one female twixt the two males. Presumably she is enjoying the three-way action, given that she is swimming upside down, holding her breath, to enable it. Scicurious gives a blow-by-blow recount of right whale sex, and why the right whale has evolved some other impressive genital physiology.

Right whales were so named because they were the right whale for rendering the oil that lit homes and greased the industrial revolution, prior to the commercial development of oil drilling. So a very well-known species. But what about the barnacles that live on the right whale’s fins? Or the parasites in its gut? Whalers and farmers and most people have an eye for species in relation to their utility to human society. It takes a naturalist’s eye to notice how many there are “just to the side” of that, or in hard to reach places. It takes a taxonomist to differentiate, characterize, and categorize them. And taxonomists are themselves going extinct.

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