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Fish Don’t Need to Be Hung Like a Horse to Get Laid

The good, the bad and the ugly things we learned about our bodies today

For as long as man has had a dick, and for as long as he’s understood that inserting said dick into the opposite (or same, if he prefers) sex was a pleasurable experience, man has pondered the question: Is bigger really better?

After all, he’s been getting conflicting reports; step into a locker room, and his fellow dudes would say that, yeah, bigger is better. His sex ed teacher most likely said something about, “It’s not how big it is, it’s how you use it,” and his sexual partners are probably somewhere in between.

Some fish, on the other hand, don’t have to ponder this most vexing of questions. To them, the answer is clear: Bigger is not better.

That, according to this study on the male swordtail fish in Proceedings of the Royal Society B. Unlike the majority of male fish that dust a batch of eggs with their sperm outside the womb of the female, swordtails have evolved to impregnate females much like humans do — internally, with penises. And it’s the size of those penises that have researchers interested.

Male swordtails come in two flavors when it comes to how they seduce their female counterparts: “Courters,” and “sneakers.” And it’s exactly what it sounds like — courters like to “coax” females into mating with them, while sneakers prefer to chase and coerce. Basically, courters are nice guys, and sneakers are Harvey Weinstein.

Researchers determined that females were able to get more choosy with the courters, and in those cases were more likely to opt for males with short genitalia.

The reason for female swordtails preferring their courter partners with the smaller dicks, the study suggests, is an evolutionary one; big-dicked males are generally larger, slower, and more conspicuous to predators. This makes them less advantageous as partners to females for whom survival is important.

So guys, if you’re not generously endowed down there, don’t get too hung up on what society says about your junk. Instead, take comfort in knowing that, in this case maybe, it’s not survival of the fittest, it’s survival of the littlest.

A few other things we learned about our bodies today: