Science To The Rescue: Where Do Penises Come From?

penis_size_matters_according_to_new_study-360x225As if men need another reason to pay close attention to their penises, apparently the mystery of how they’re formed at the cellular level is the “key to much of life on earth.” So how are they formed? And why do males have them? These are questions asked by many an inquisitive 8-year-old and distinguished scientist alike.

Two teams of researches have come to some fairly conclusive results that begin to tell the origin story of one of life’s little origins. If penises were Batman, this would be Batman Begins. Not only because the research reveals the roots of the organ, but also because Christian Bale is supposedly a real dick to work with.

By looking at how penises form in snake, lizard, mouse, and chick embryos, researches tracked the cells that would eventually produce the organs. They discovered that while the cells differed from species to species, the common thread was the cloaca, a cavity destined to become the lower part of the gut.

(Side note: cloaca is also a fancy way to say butthole, though they serve more functions than just waste expulsion. Only amphibians, birds, and reptiles are born with one. Humans have one in the embryonic stage, which is split up into separate tracts during the development of the urinary and reproductive organs)

The cloaca sends signals to nearby cells to produce the penis, so depending on where the cloaca is located, different cells get the work order.

In rodents, the cloaca is near the tail, so tail cells are diverted to start construction on the penis. In snakes, it’s near where two limbs used to sprout out, explaining why snakes have two penises.

Researchers tested the theory by transplanting cloacal tissue to an area of a chick embryo where it didn’t belong, and low and behold, a penis began to form in the same spot. They didn’t allow the chick to develop any further, which is kind of sad to think about. But that’s life.

Researches hope the new findings could very soon help millions of people born with genital malformations.

H/t: Science Mag