February 23, 2021

Malacology: a mollusk fights a strange sexual war

By admin2020

Long penises which are groping for a partner, violently ousting the competitors, going so far as to evacuate the sperm of their predecessor to deposit theirs, while receiving the semen of a third …

Newsletter Science&Vie

Receive all science news, three times a week

The sexual game in which tarets engage in breeding time was first revealed by a group of marine biologists in Charleston (United States). These mollusks are well known to sailors because they attack the wood of the hulls of boats, on which they feed. Even if they look like worms, tarets are actually bivalve mollusks, like mussels, specifies Philippe Bouchet, of the National Museum of Natural History in Paris. From their small shell stuck in the wood emerge two long siphons: one used to breathe underwater and the other to expel waste. They change sex during life and are sometimes hermaphrodites. During reproduction, the first siphon opens and widens, to receive the sperm released by the emitting siphon of another. The American team observed the simultaneous and competitive copulation of members of a colony of more than 70 individuals in an aquarium. Their sexual frenzy lasted several hours, in waters that had turned milky due to the presence of eggs and sperm.