Found where we weren't looking. Scientists have found that female snakes have a clitoris

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Found where they weren't looking. Scientists have found that female snakes have a clitoris

Researchers suggest that the presence of a clitoris may be common in scaly and plays an important role in breeding.

Scientists have declared that all early theories are wrong and offered as evidence the world's first complete description of snake clitoris. The data obtained indicate that its presence is quite common for squamates, which include snakes, and plays an important role in reproduction.

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According to study author Dr. Megan Folwell of the University of Adelaide in Australia, the female genitalia in the animal kingdom are little studied compared to males, which limits our understanding of reproduction among vertebrates. For example, the fact that male squamates have a bisexual organ (hemipenis) was known as early as the 1800s. However, the female genital organ of the squamosal was first described by the German herpetologist Wolfgang Boehme only in 1995.

According to Folwell, she and colleagues began their study by studying the common viper. In total, the scientists dissected 10 snakes of various species, including the carpet python, the noisy viper and the Mexican cottonmouth. In the course of the study, scientists discovered that squamates have two separate clitoris (hemiclitors) separated by tissue and hidden under the skin on the underside of the tail.

For example, in a noisy viper, the organ has the shape of a triangle or “heart”. Some of them are quite small, others occupy almost the entire area around the cloaca (openings for the digestive, urinary and reproductive tract). The researchers found that the size of the hemiclitorium can range from less than one millimeter to seven millimeters.

The organs also have erectile tissue, which likely swells with blood, according to Folwell. In addition, they contain nerve bundles that may indicate “tactile sensitivity”, similar to how it occurs in mammals.

Researchers note that snakes are quite tactile animals, and therefore there is a high probability that they get quite a lot of sensations even through the skin. In addition, researchers believe that if female snakes' sexual organs are stimulated during mating, this appears to lead to a longer process, and thus increase the chances of reproductive success.

According to Fowell, this topic is very taboo in the scientific community, and therefore it took scientists so long to finally approach it. Moreover, this structure is not the easiest to search for, especially when scientists do not know what and where to look.