Saturday, 23 February 2013

Penis size matters to female golden moles

By Matt Walker, Editor, BBC Nature

Among Hottentot golden moles, penis size, it seems, does matter to the female of the species.
Female Hottentot golden moles use the size of male golden moles' penises as a guide to their suitability as a mate, scientists have discovered.

A long penis makes a male mole more attractive and raises his chances of fathering offspring.
That suggests that penis size is a sexually selected trait in this species.

Scientists have published details of the discovery in the journal Mammalian Biology.

“We know very little about their mating strategy. Suffice to say it's probably every mole for himself”,  Prof Nigel Bennett, University of Pretoria, South Africa

Golden moles are a group of small, blind, highly specialised mammals endemic to sub-Saharan Africa.

They live underground in networks of specially dug tunnels, feeding on earthworms and the larvae and grubs of invertebrates such as insects.

"Golden moles are ideally suited to their ecosystem, they are cylindrical in body shape, have a pointed leathery nose shield that they use to push through the clay soil and two modified forepaws that resemble picks," said Prof Nigel Bennett of the University of Pretoria, South Africa, who conducted the study with Ms Tarryn Retief and Dr Bill Bateman of the same institution.

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