Have You Ever Had A Russian Beard, Devushka?

Okay, so I’ve had a lot of topics requested for my first Science Saturday, but by far the majority of you, fair readers, want to learn more about duck penises. Well, here I am to explain the complex biology of one of nature’s most intriguing anatomies.

The promiscuous male Lake Ducks are the envy of the animal kingdom: they are thought to possess the largest penises of any chordate—that is animals with a spine—on the planet, relative to body size. The Lake Duck penis can unfurl from its normally flaccid and curled state to nearly the length of the duck. It is telling that these birds live only in South America where tropical temperatures seem to turn the place into a steaming bathhouse orgy year round and that—like much of the human population of the continent—these ducks get around. Also, in a truly miraculous feat of evolution, male Lake Ducks have bristles at the end of their penises that act like those little sticky hands you used to play with as a kid that can scrub out other male Lake Ducks sperm from the females’ corkscrew vaginas. In other words, these ducks have so many sexual partners that at some point the males decide to have defensive sex.

Oddly enough, in some Amazonian cultures it is believed that consuming the penises of other animals, including Lake Ducks, can act as a natural aphrodisiac and male enhancer. The Lake Ducks mirror our own rich history experimenting with male enhancement. Since it would be cannibalistic for Lake Ducks to do this to their own species and brethren, Lake Ducks have decided to flip the script. In the ancient oral histories of Amazonian tribes, Lake Duck attacks on the human anatomy were well known and eventually led to a pogrom of all ducks in a small region of the Amazon basin—ironic considering that in most duck species, males do not have penises at all! But alas, we are a cruel race.

Male Lake Ducks once again became a human fascination during the Cold War—specifically to the U.S. government’s Central Intelligence Agency. Recently declassified documents reveal a project called “Have You Ever Had A Russian Beard, Devushka?” in which biologists performed nearly 13 years of research, from 1971-1984, in an attempt to discover and then harness the genetic makeup of male Lake Duck anatomy. After the research was done, the project becomes a bit more convoluted. But the U.S. was desperate to end the Cold War. Agents were treated with genetic therapy to increase the size of their member in the hopes they could infiltrate the Soviet Union’s largest cities and simultaneously seduce copious amounts of Russian women with their exaggerated penises and use their bristle tip to scoop out any sperm of unlucky Russian suitors who came before them. In a couple years’ time, the spies would reveal themselves to the Soviets. Once the Socialists realized Americans had fathered many of the coming generation, the whole USSR would fall, so the U.S. thinking went. It would be a real egg on the ushanka moment.

Unfortunately for the men who took part in these experiments, genetic therapy was still in its infant stage. The flaccid, curly state (that nonetheless works so well for Lake Ducks) could not be controlled once these genes were inserted into the men’s genome, leaving the men horribly deformed. In 1991, the men involved in these experiments filed a class action lawsuit against the U.S. government (Penile Grossities v. USA) and were rewarded $43 million. All in all, the “Have You Ever Had A Russian Beard, Devushka?” project cost the taxpayers of America nearly $10 billion.


You may be asking yourself what qualifications I have to write this article. Well a lightly used bachelors of science in biology for starters. Then there is my experience with a number of remote Amazonian tribes. And of course my access to large amounts of CIA documents. Need I more?

–It’s a Beautiful Day, I Need to Think


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