Vaginas (May not be suitable for children and some adults)

In case you missed it, vaginas were all the rage last week…

Kangaroos have not 1, not 2, but 3 vajayjays.

     Just when you thought the human vagina was complicated. The sexual reproductive plumbing of kangaroos (and all marsupials) uses 3 vaginas as “one-way streets,” two side roads for sperm and one main road that functions as the birth canal. How do the sperm know to go down the side roads? As it turns out, male marsupials have 2-pronged penises to accommodate the 2 side (lateral) vaginas while the external opening of the middle vagina (also called the pseudovagina or medial vagina) opens and closes at each birth.

     As Ed Yong points out, “With its complicated reproductive set-up, a female kangaroo can be perpetually pregnant. While one joey is developing inside the pouch, another embryo is held in reserve in a uterus, waiting for its sibling to grow up and leave. Indeed, a mother kangaroo can nourish three separate youngsters at a time – an older joey that has left the pouch, a young one developing inside it, and an embryo still waiting to be born.”

Red is the color of lust…and baboon butts.

     One speculation as to why the color red turns men on is rooted in the hypothesis that there is an ancestral attraction to red, evolutionary baggage held over from when the genitalia of our female ancestors still flushed and swelled when they were ready to tango–much like they do in Old World primates that are in “heat.” This doesn’t happen in modern humans so instead, women could attract men by wearing red as an indicator “to announce impending ovulation and sexual proceptivity.” Researchers tested this hypothesis in a study recently published in PLoS One, which is pretty well broken down in this Slate article. They reasoned that if the hypothesis were true, then men would prefer redder vaginas. To test this the researchers asked men to rate the attractiveness of images of vaginas that varied in color: pale pink, light pink, dark pink, and red. The results indicated that men had a “relative preference for pinker genital images with redder genitalia rated significantly less sexually attractive” and therefore did not support the hypothesis.

     The study, however, did not come without problems as the researchers had a hard time getting photos of vaginas. As they put it, “Explicit images of anatomically normal, un-retouched, non-pornographic, similarly oriented female genitals were surprisingly difficult to obtain.” So the study participants were shown digitally recolored images of vaginas. As Jesse Bering of Slate points out, “Perhaps I’m wrong, but to my untrained, homosexual eyes, the colors do indeed appear to capture a natural-looking variation—though the red does look a bit raw and painful.” To me the red one looks more brown. That might skew the attractiveness scale toward the pinker ones. You can have a gander at Figure 1 of their paper and decide for yourself.

     The paper also left me wondering how might social and cultural norms override biology in this context. Different cultures may attach different meanings to colors, for instance in the West the color of mourning is black. For Vietnamese culture it’s white. Unfortunately, this applies to skin tone as well–some cultures “prefer” lighter skin. Case in point: the availability of supposed vaginal bleaching products in India. (Can anyone confirm for me if Clean and Dry Intimate Wash is in fact a skin lightener?)

Related Reading:

Further scientific insight on lipstick colour?

A seductive trap that looks like a vagina but smells like poop

     Looking like part vagina, part venus fly trap, the flower of Hydnora africana, an underground-growing plant that parasitizes the roots of other plants, emits an “eau de poop” to attract and then trap dung beetles. Unlike the venus fly trap, the Hydnora africana flower doesn’t capture the beetle for food, but rather to cover it in pollen. In addition to a pollen shower, the flower provides the beetle temporary housing complete with meals–the beetle feeds on the flesh of the flower. After a few days, the flower fully blooms allowing the dung beetle to leave and carry out pollination.

Piranha plant or Audrey II? You decide.

The ongoing G-Spot controversy

     This just came in this morning in my Twitter feed. Looks like someone is claiming to have found the anatomical existence of the ever elusive G-Spot. Read this interesting take on how the media infatuation and perpetuation of the G-spot debate is counterproductive to women’s sexual health. The blog post also points out some in failures of the research, some interesting conflicts of interests, and also points out that there is no corresponding controversy/debate/focus on male orgasms despite the fact that many men have reported sexual gratification through different means such as anal and prostate stimulation.