Despite decades of fascination with dolphins, scientists have overlooked an aspect of the anatomy of the species.
Now, researchers offer a close look at the clitoris of female dolphins along with information about the potential of animals to experience sexual pleasure.
Scientists discovered that female bottlenose dolphins have large, well-developed clitorises. The structure of the tissue suggests that the clitoris may expand, for example, in response to stimulation.
The skin under the hood of the clitoris contains Beams of nerves They can increase the sensitivity and pleasure potential, as in the human clitoris.
Previous studies suggest that sex plays an important role in the social bond between dolphins, as seen in other social species. Dolphins copulate all year, even during the periods when they can not conceive.
"In other species of mammals with copulation throughout the year, such as humans and bonobos, it is known that sex is pleasant for females, often through the stimulation of the clitoris that leads to orgasm, "says associate researcher at Mount Holyoke College in the United States, Dara Orbach.
"Our anatomical observations suggest that the clitoris is functional in bottlenose dolphins, but more research is needed, including physiological and behavioral analyzes, to see if sexual experiences can be pleasurable for female dolphins," adds the expert, who led conducted the research together with the assistant professor of biology Patricia Brennan.
Orbach presents the research at the annual meeting of the American Association of Anatomists during the Experimental Biology meeting of 2019, which is held from Saturday to Tuesday in Orlando, Florida (United States).
The scientists studied 11 dolphins that had died naturally and were collected under an authorized permit by the National Marine Fisheries Service.
To explore the anatomy of the dolphin clitoris, they performed dissections, created 3D computed tomography (CT) scans, fixed the tissues in paraffin and they stained them to examine their structure in detail.
Different position of human women
The authors found that dolphins have a clitoral hood where two areas of extensive erectile tissue fuse into a single body, a shape and structure very similar to the human clitoris.
In both humans and dolphins, the erectile tissue of the clitoris is larger than the hood of the clitoris, and the thin, folded nature of the skin around the hood of the clitoris suggests that the clitoris may expand during periods of engorgement and enlargement. the sensibility.
However, the dolphin's clitoris is in a different position in relation to the vaginal opening in humans.
"In the dolphins, the clitoris is placed at the entrance of the vaginal opening and in direct contact with the penis during intercourse, unlike the external position of the clitoris in humans," Orbach says. "The location of the clitoris near of the vaginal opening indicates that It can be easily stimulated during intercourse"
In another contrast to human anatomy, scientists found no evidence of vestibular bullae in the bottlenose dolphins, an area of erectile tissue surrounding the vaginal opening in humans and contributes to orgasm.
"Very little is known about female reproductive morphology in most wild vertebrate species," says Orbach, "This research provides a comparative framework for exploring other functions of sex that may not be unique to humans. precipice of a deeper understanding of the relationship between the form and function of the genitals ".