Photo Credit: regmedia.co.uk
Well, if this isn’t Earth Porn, we don’t know what is. The bizarre flatworm literally stabs itself in the head to reproduced. Scientists discovered the hermaphrodite flatworm that resorts to self-insemination when it’s unable to find a mate, taking masturbation to a whole new level, you might say.
The flatworm, or Macrostomum hystrix, is able to use this reproductive strategy as it has both male and female sex organs. Though this produces what would be considered “inbred” offspring, apparently, that’s still better than not being able to reproduce at all, according to the researchers.
Dr. Steven Ramm, the lead author of the study, told The Guardian, “Lots of animals are able to self-fertilize, but this is the first example of one that uses a hypodermic appendage to do so. Snails can fertilize themselves, but they have connections between the male and female organs. In these worms, male and female organs are kept separate, so they need this system for fertilization to work.”
Hermaphrodites aren’t particularly rare. But, as Dr. Ramm explained, most hermaphrodites have a more sophisticated system for self-reproduction.
Possessing both sets of sex organs is actually a survival strategy. Even among hermaphrodites, mating with another specimen is preferred to self-insemination from a genetic diversity standpoint. However, mates aren’t always around, in which case most organisms would find their reason for existing terminated – they would never have the chance to pass on their genes.
Dr. Ramm further explained, “As far as we know, this is the first described example of hypodermic self-injection of sperm into the head. To us this sounds traumatic, but to these flatworms it may be their best bet if they cannot find a mate but still want to reproduce.”