Barnacles leak sperm into the ocean and are renowned for possessing the longest penises in the animal kingdom. The Pacific gooseneck barnacle is first species of arthropods in the ocean known to “spermcast.” The findings of the new study apparently prove that momma was right when she reminded you that keeping your mouth closed while swimming is a very good idea.
Spermcasting is a process which works exactly as the phrase indicates. A male barnacle projects his sperm into the water for the females to gather and fertilize their eggs, according to National Geographic. Ocean species such as sea anenomes, sponges, and jellyfish are also reportedly known to spermcast.
The extremely long penises of barnacles of reportedly emerged because the creatures attach themselves to rocks and cannot more. The barnacle penis has reportedly been known to alter its size and shape in order to help its “neighbors” fertilize.
As hermaphrodites, most species of barnacle can also self-fertilize. The rock-clinging ocean inhabitants tend to lean toward one gender but apparently are not fussy about finding a mate when the urge to procreate arrives.
The gooseneck barnacle is the only variation of the species which is reportedly not known to participate in self-fertilization, University of Alberta study co-author Richard Palmer notes. A research team led by Marjan Barazendeh collected multiple Pacific gooseneck barnacles from the Barkley Sound in British Columbia to study.
Researchers determined that the gooseneck barnacle’s DNA composition was found but near and away from “penis range,” leading the team to the spermcasting determination. How female barnacles “catch” the sperm-filled water to fertilize their eggs remains unknown.