Endless forms: Oral sex by fruit bats

ResearchBlogging.orgOne of those scientific papers that seems to have been written with the blogosphere in mind: biologists have just published records of fellatio by the fruit bat Cynopterus sphinx. Apparently C. sphinx females are pretty flexible — they lick their mate’s penis during copulation, which evidently induces him to stay in longer (see the graph below, with drawing). The authors offer a handful of non-mutually-exclusive hypotheses for the adaptive benefit of the behavior, ranging from lubrication to increased fertilization efficiency. The full text is available for free at PLoS ONE, if you’re up for some hot-and-heavy behavioral observations.

Graph from Tan et al. (2009), Figure 3.

Update: In a more in-depth post over at Boing-Boing, Maggie Koerth-Baker wonders why there needs to be an adaptive purpose for a pleasurable behavior (there doesn’t, as far as I’m concerned), and points out that there’s also a video in the supporting information. Which video has some totally unscientific background music.


Tan, M., Jones, G., Zhu, G., Ye, J., Hong, T., Zhou, S., Zhang, S., & Zhang, L. (2009). Fellatio by fruit bats prolongs copulation time PLoS ONE, 4 (10) DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0007595