Do Reptiles Have Penises?
Reptiles are a broad classification of animals, so in order to answer whether or not they have penises, more information must be gathered first. Generally speaking, reptiles can be divided into two groups: the Lepidosauria, which includes lizards, snakes and turtles, and the Archosauria, which includes the crocodilians, birds and dinosaurs.
Lepidosaurs, or scaled reptiles, include lizards and snakes, as well as the tuatara, which is found only in New Zealand. This group falls under the Squamata suborder, which includes three families of lizards and snakes:
- Lacertidae – which includes the wall gecko and the skink
- Scincidae – which includes the shingleback lizard, the gecko and the monitor lizard.
- Gekkonidae – which includes the gecko and the box turtle.
The Lepidosaurs have a primitive type of penis, which is known as a hemipenis or a paired organ. This is made up of two parts of a fold in the skin known as the prepuce. It is tucked away in the cloaca, the common opening for the digestive, reproductive and urinary systems, and is used for reproduction.
Archosaurs, or ruling reptiles, are found in the Crocodylia, Aves and Dinosauria orders. Some members of this group, like crocodiles and alligators, possess a similar form of penises to that of the lizards, while other species, like birds and dinosaurs, lack them completely. Birds instead have a complex system of “cloacal kisses” in which the male and female come into contact with each other’s reproductive organs without ever needing to enter or exit the cloaca.
In recent years, the discovery of a fossil of a prehistoric, duck-billed dinosaur has revealed that some dinosaurs may have in fact had penises. This dinosaur is known as the Hadrosaurid and its bill was packed with soft tissue, which may have been a form of penis.
Overall, it is clear that reptiles have evolved in a variety of ways when it comes to their reproductive organs, so it is hard to make an exact statement on the matter. However, it is known that some types of reptiles do have penises, while others have adapted other modes of reproduction.