The Ig Nobel Prizes – Penises of the Animal Kingdom

The Ig Nobel prize is the fun version of the traditional Nobel prize. Instead of giving an award for something extraordinary, it is given for weird artistic and scientific achievements. I think that it will be a great source for fun and interesting posts for this blog.

The first Ig Nobels were given in 1991, and since then the ceremony has been taking place yearly first in the MIT auditorium, and more recently in the Harvard University Sanders Theater.

In 1992 the winner of the Ig Nobel price in art was Mr Jim Knowlton who created the great work “Penises of the Animals”. This was a poster were a series of animal penises were depicted in order of size. The left on is the whale, the right one … yes, the men. He believed that this work was good mix of art and science.

I will cut and paste the text that was included in the poster according to Marc at mainsquere website (

Penises of the Animal Kingdom features anatomically accurate representations of the male copulatory organs of several animals, including man. Each illustration was rendered with close attention to proportion and scale, the overall size determined by the average physical dimensions of the genitalia of adult males.

With the exception of man, the entire organ is depicted, from tip to base. In other words, each figure includes any segment of the penis contained within the body of the animal: the internal portion is a significant fraction of the entire length of most animal penises. All organs are pictured erect at 20 percent of actual size.

Each penis has certain outstanding features. The human organ possesses a well defined glans, or tip. This mushroom shaped end is one of the most evolved glandes of the animal kingdom.

The dog penis has a bulbous enlargement that is present only during erection. This bulb is the reason dogs “get stuck” while copulating. The female contracts her vagina around the trapped penis to extract seminal fluids.

Hyenas are well known for the similarity of the male and female genital organs. A female’s erect clitoris is nearly impossible to distinguish from a male’s penis. Covering the glans of each organ are sharp, backwardly directed spines.

The penises of the ram, giraffe and goat have extensions of the urethra. The urethras of the giraffe and ram can extend up to four centimeters beyond the glans of the penis, forming a pliant hook.

The porpoise has a remarkable penis. The longer branch of its forked end is actually jointed, allowing the tip to rotate or swivel. The animal has voluntary control over this action and uses the finger-like appendage to manipulate and investigate objects in its environment.

Perhaps the oddest penis is that of the pig. During erection, the end of the penis convolutes into a corkscrew bearing an uncanny resemblance to the animal’s coiled tail. The helical end of the erect organ conforms to the twisted contours of the female’s vagina.

The horse penis is similar to that of the human; it also has a well defined glans. A dissimilar feature is a slight extension of the urethra.

The bull penis has an interesting history. Because of its rope-like consistency and proportions, it was used in the Middle Ages as a flogging stick. Today in some parts of the world it is dried and used as a walking cane.

The elephant has a very muscular penis. Half of the curved organ forms the pendulous portion, yet only the very end penetrates the hard-to-reach vulva of the female during copulation.

Whales have the largest penises of all animals. A blue whale penis can measure thirteen feet in length and one foot in diameter. The poster pictures the sperm whale penis with a length of over seven feet.

The worse part is that this post was funded with public money from the National Endowment for the Arts, a public organ in the United States that stimulates the creation of art, that also funded a pop-up book that I could not find any info on.

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One Response to The Ig Nobel Prizes – Penises of the Animal Kingdom

  1. I don’t care what science says about this, I believe mine is bigger and better. Whales watch TV programs about me and sing whale-songs about my ‘XXLTrident Submarine’ when they are drunk. The sounds are difficult to translate, but basically mean ‘Lock up the Oceans’ Daughters, here comes a whopper!’, plus some other stuff about Japanese fishermen and plankton.

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