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"The things we do for science" might be the standard Jaime Lannister-like response one would get upon asking the team members behind this research about their unconventional approach to studying dolphin sex.
Researchers at Dalhousie, Massachusetts and Tufts Universities have used an artificially erected dead dolphin penis (i.e., an artificial dead boner so to speak) to understand how these cetaceans mate in the wild.

Observing marine creatures' mating behavior in the ocean is a rather tricky business as it is nearly impossible to study their reproduction rituals underwater due to the fact that they happen randomly. So a small team of scientists took it upon themselves to study the sexual mechanisms of dolphins using genitals obtained from dead dolphins, seals, and porpoises. Cetaceans are a group of aquatic mammals that includes whales, dolphins, and porpoises. Despite dolphins being one of the most intelligent animals that can show affection towards humans, their sexual life remained an unexplored area, until October 11 2017 when a study published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, might have finally solved the inner workings of their sexual conduct.

To get a clear idea of what happens during a typical dolphin sexual intercourse, the team extracted sexual organs from dead bottlenoses dolphins, common dolphins and harbor porpoises. Knowing that a flaccid organ is useless on its own, they inflated the obtained dead penises with a saline solution and then slid them into vaginas to simulate how they would interact with each other during a typical mating. After that, they took CT scans of the dead phalli mid-action to determine which part of the penis made contact with which vaginal region.

The research allowed the team to gain unprecedented insights into dolphin penetration. While the scientists found that common dolphins' sexual intercourse is usually a typical male-up female-down operation, harbor porpoises and bottlenose dolphins' mating has a little twist to it. In fact, the vaginal structure of females from these two species contained unusual folds whose purpose is apparently to allow them to prevent unwanted males' sperm from fertilizing the eggs!

Source: Phys.org
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