Saturday, 5 May 2012

Evolution is Wicked: The Real Life Detachable Penis

An Anemone Hermit Crab (Dardanus pedunculatus) who's anemone has latched onto an Epitoke. Photo: Ryan Pearson
By Ryan Pearson
Ever been on a night dive and had what seems like a billion tiny worms shooting all around you? Worms that aren't generally there and seem to pop up en masse randomly and unexpectedly? Well I have, and I've heard similar stories from other divers. One night in the Gold Coast Seaway, I had this happen to me, and ever since I've been wondering just what the hell they were... well I may have found the answer.

When you're on a dive with these things, you'll know about it. They buzz around frantically, seemingly mindlessly, like annoying little elongated and wriggly insects. If what I suspect they are is true... they actually are mindless. You see, it appears that certain types of polychaete worms have an unusal method of reproduction. What happens is that when it comes time to mate, they adapt the lower part of their body specifically with the purpose of reproduction. The segments toward the back-end fill with reproductive goodness, and essentially snap off and swim away on their own to spread their genetic goop. This sex-drone is known as the epitoke.

It's like having a your own sex robot, that is genetically identical to you, but supercharged with hormones and is much more attractive than you are, and does all of the courtship and dirty work. It's like filling your legs with 'love juice', and having everything from your hips down get up and walk off to the pub chasing cougars on its own. Safe sex? No need, you can't get an STD across the airwaves. Remember that song from the 90's Detachable Penis? It's just like that! But it never comes back to reattach.

Anyway, that's what I suspect these little guys are (please correct me if you know better). I'm sorry that I don't have any better pictures of them. But next time you encounter them underwater, and they're wriggling into your ears (I'm talking to you Kieren Curry), just have a think about what they're trying to achieve in there... enjoy.

1 comment:

Sarah Shark said...

Hahaha, well said Pearson. Well said.