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Well Hung Beetle Named For Isabella Rossellini's Brilliant "Green Porno" Animal Sex Series

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Stephen Luntz

Freelance Writer

clockAug 1 2018, 11:43 UTC
beetles dick

Isabella Rossellini's brilliant Green Porno series covers the sex lives of animals. Green Porno/Sundance/Youtube

You may not know this, but the actress, filmmaker and philanthropist Isabella Rossellini has made an award-winning series of short films, called Green Porno, about the sex lives of various animal species. By dressing up as the animals in question, Rossellini has persuaded millions of people to learn more about the biology of anglerfish, whales, spiders, and barnacles than they probably would have any other way. Now this outstanding contribution to science communication has been honored with the naming of a beetle species after Rossellini, and as you might expect, the beetle is packing.

The journal Zookeys presents an overview of 30 fungus beetle species from the rainforests of Borneo. Of these, 14 have been newly discovered by Professor Menno Schilthuizen of Leiden University and colleagues, reminding us of the astonishing, and poorly cataloged, biological richness of these greatly threatened ecosystems.

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Entomologists will no doubt read with excitement the descriptions of discoveries such as Ptomaphaminus nanus, a 1.5 millimeter (0.06 inch) resident of Sarawak's lowland forests, but Schilthuizen, who has written a book on the evolution of genitalia, knows it is sex that captures the wider world's attention.

Consequently, one species has forever been lumbered with the scientific name Ptomaphaminus microphallus. In contrast, an inhabitant of the lower montane forests of Kinabalu Park, Sabah, was named Ptomaphaginus isabellarossellini for its serious big dick energy.

Male (top left) and female (bottom left) genitalia of the new species Ptomaphaginus isabellarossellini and the beetle itself. Menno Schilthuizen 

P. isabellarossellini grows to 4 millimeters (0.2 inches) making it one of the larger species in this tiny group. Its genitalia, however, would be considerably longer if fully stretched out. The penis has a very long, thin, whip-like feature called a flagellum, while the female's inner workings look like a crazy straw, ending in sperm storage repository.

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Features like this are a sign of an evolutionary sexual arms race – something Rossellini discussed in her video on duck sex. In species with comparable anatomy, the females may choose, or be forced to, mate with many males, but exercise control over their own reproduction by storing the semen internally, using only the sperm from their favorite males to fertilize their eggs.

The males, rather than bringing the beetle equivalent of chocolates and flowers to convince the females of their worth, produce ever-longer penises to reach the places where the female stores the sperm. Either for flexibility or to reduce weight, P. isabellarossellini has adopted the flagellum, rather than simply extending their penis. Beetles frequently evolve bizarrely shaped genitals, to the point that in some areas, genital differences represent the easiest way for zoologists to tell different species apart.

Rossellini, who is studying for a masters in animal conservation, is delighted with the honor, describing it in a statement as: “Better than winning the Oscar”. Having got advanced notice, Rossellini has added the beetle to the repertoire of animals she features in her latest stage show.


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  • tag
  • Borneo,

  • flagellum,

  • Isabella Rossellini,

  • fungus beetle,

  • sexual arms race,

  • weird genitalia

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