On last night's episode of "Sex in the Wild," a 4-part PBS series that investigates the sex lives, mating behaviors, and reproductive systems of a variety of animals, the subject was marsupials. That's right: we learned all about Kangaroo vaginas, Koala penii, and the 4-headed Echidna penis.
But first, a warning: This post (and the show itself) is NSFW: Not Safe for Wussies. If you are easily skeeved out by nature, you might want to move on.
Led by intrepid anatomy scientist Dr. Joy S. Reidenberg--whose infectious curiosity and comfort with the subject ("Oooh, just look at that penis!") will make you hope you run into her at a cocktail party some day--the episode begins with kangaroos. Here's where we learn that female kangaroos have 3 vaginas. No, not 3 openings, but inside the kangaroo is a regular-style vagina tube, which then splits off into two other, smaller tubes (the second and third vaginas). (Dr. Joy shows us this by disecting a female kangaroo that had been hit by a car. Swarmed by flies she still manages to give good camera-face while holding slimy kangaroo organs in the air.)
The mating process looks, actually, a bit like kangaroo rape, with two males chasing around a female until she is exhausted, at which point the larger one grabs her and, in the kind words of Dr. Joy, "tries to get access."
He does manage to get access, using his long, s-shaped , heat-seaking penis that is, unlike any other animal, positioned behind his balls.
And now for the gross/amazing part: The kangaroo fetus develops inside the female for 30 days and then it is born, except it's not really so much pushed out of her vagina, but more like it climbs out of there, and then keeps climbing all the way up the mother's body to her pouch, and hops in.
Do you see that little 'roo baby crawling?
This 30 day old kangaroo "baby" really just looks like a tiny little fetus. It's all pink and small and blind and doesn't have any hind legs--just a head and eyes and forearms with claws on them so that he can climb up his mom.
Now do you see it?
Once inside the pouch, he attaches himself to a nipple and basically grows into a fully-developed little Joey in there.
Baby in the pouch, attached to the nip
After kangaroos, we learn about koalas -- actually, not so much about their mating habits in the wild, but how scientists have to know all about their mating habits in order to try to artificially inseminate female koalas and help bring up the population of this adorable, endangered species.
They do this by bringing a male koala and a female koala into a room together. Once the male "gets access", the koala sex routine goes like this: Mr. Koala makes 40 (40!) thrusts into Mrs. Koala, then 2 last thrusts during which he ejaculates. And at the same time, Mrs. Koala is stimulated by those 40 thrusts to drop an egg.
The scientists basically let the male go at it, but when he gets to around thrust #40, they pull him out of her and stick his schween into a fake koala vagina! Yes, they made one. It has to be seen to be believed.
Now you can never say that you've never seen a fake Koala vagina.
That might be a bit embarrassing to the male koala, but it can't be nearly as uncomfortable as is the process whereby they inseminate the female, because this is done in a lab with two folks holding the koala female, and a third basically inserting a fake koala penis (made of glass!) into her 40 times, then replacing it with a pipette with sperm. I have to admit this part made me uncomfortable.
Koala insemination with fake glass koala peen.
Female koala is calm during the insemination, but her face is all, "WTF?"
Finally, we learn about the echidna, a porcupine-looking marsupial. There's a lot that's interesting here, but the freakiest thing is the echidna penis. And we get to see it when a scientist sits down in the forest with a male wallaby and basically masturbates him so he gets an erection and his penis will come out. And there it is: Long, red, and with four sprayer heads. It looks like some kind of hydra.
This is not an echidna foot.
After a while, two of the sprayers kind of wither away and only two actually spray anything inside the female.
I know it's nature but this creeps me out
It all makes you realize just how amazing (and gross) nature really is.
If you didn't get a chance to see it last night, you can watch the entire episode on PBS' website. Next week they'll be doing dolphins -- perhaps literally -- and I'll be back to bring you the recap.
All screenshots from PBS' "Sex in the Wild"