PHOTOS: ''Torture'' Phalluses Give Beetles Breeding Boost

PHOTOS: ''Torture'' Phalluses Give Beetles Breeding Boost
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Among known seed beetle species, C. maculatus (above, the tip of its phallus) has the longest and spiniest male genitalia, which resemble "medieval torture instruments," one researcher says.

The harmful sexual organs "literally injure females internally in their copulatory duct," said Göran Arnqvist, an evolutionary biologist at Sweden's Uppsala University. "They're pretty mean."

But they also get the job done: Sperm from male seed beetles with the longest and spiniest sexual organs beat out their shorter competition in a recent study, to be reported in the March 10, 2009, issue of the journal Current Biology.

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— Photograph courtesy Johanna L. Rönn/Uppsala University
 
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