A big brain isn’t a dolphin’s only human-like attribute: Massachusetts scientists have discovered that these marine mammals have large and well-developed clitorises, which apparently provide as much pleasure as a human’s. The study was published Monday in the journal Current Biology, according to Eureka Alert.
“The dolphin clitoris has many features to suggest that it functions to provide pleasure to females,” said Patricia Brennan, an assistant biology professor at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, who authored the amorous article.
Brennan got inspired to conduct the research while studying dolphin clitoral evolution.
“Every time we dissected a vagina, we would see this very large clitoris, and we were curious whether anyone had examined it in detail to see if it worked like a human clitoris,” Brennan explained. “We knew that dolphins have sex not just to reproduce, but also to solidify social bonds, so it seemed likely that the clitoris could be functional.”
To determine that dolphins’ sex organs are not just for procreation, Brennan and her team examined the anatomy of 11 bottlenose dolphins that were found dead on US beaches.
They found that their vulvas were surprisingly “similar” to the shape of a human’s, which Brennan found interesting given that “entire pelvis of dolphins is so different.”
Just like their bipedal brethren, the female bottlenose’s sex organ is enveloped in a hood, New Scientist reported. As the critter matures, this cover becomes wrinkled, potentially causing the vulva tip to become engorged with blood when aroused.
“Also, the size of the nerves in the clitoris body was very surprising,” Brennan said. “Some were larger than half a millimeter in diameter.”
Her dolphin pleasure theory is supported by the fact that their vaginas are located in a spot that would make coital stimulation nearly inevitable. Not only that, but the animals have sex year-round — even when they can’t conceive — and have even been observed probing each other’s genitals with their flukes, flippers and snouts.
Brennan ultimately hopes that her research will help broaden our understanding of both human and animal sex lives.
“This neglect in the study of female sexuality has left us with an incomplete picture of the true nature of sexual behaviors,” she said. “Studying and understanding sexual behaviors in nature is a fundamental part of understanding the animal experience and may even have important medical applications in the future.”