Mention at a party that you study barnacles for a living, and you’re likely to be left alone in a corner nursing your drink alone, unless, of course, you casually mention that a barnacle’s penis can be up to eight times its body length. Then, you can almost hear the “Bow chicka bow, bow” strike up in the background, so it’s no wonder scientists are a bit hesitant to accept that those with, well, “smaller boats,” so to speak, are barely making an effort to spread the seed but being successful nonetheless.
Using paternity testing, Marjan Barazandeh, a Ph.D. student at the University of Alberta discovered that barnacles working with blunter tools were simply sending out a cloud of sperm into surrounding waters and hoping for the best, which is quite a bit of hope considering barnacle sperm can’t swim. Somehow, though, this “sloppy sperm” was using the motion of the ocean and getting the job done.
The real reason marine biologists aren’t pleased with this exciting discovery is not so much that their cocktail conversation is that much creepier than the population models they had constructed on the assumption the darned barnacles had to put forth a little effort are shot to heck.
For all you lazy lovers out there, though, it’s time to stand up (sit up) and applaud (not emulate) your new heroes of the animal kingdom.
Full story at Science NOW.
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