10:58 p.m. - 2005-10-08
I'm afraid to report yet again that I have neglected to share some very important information with you all. This is a subject about which I have known for several years.
The mammalian penis bone. Here's a pic from www.mobster-thermador.co.uk:
It's true! There are some mammals that have penis bones, scientifically known as baculae. (I think Bacula is also the name of some computer program?!)
As you know, my Dad knows a lot about animals, and a few years back I was looking through one of Maven's "Jane" magazines when I saw the raccoon penis bone featured as a pendant on some Hollywood stars. So I discussed this with my Dad, who proceeded to "collect" a bunch of these things! Raccoon penis bones are about three to four inches long, and there was one otter bone in there, which was a little longer. I brought these specimens back to MN to show to my friends, and in fact gave them as gifts to people! (Mine currently resides on the kitchen windowsill.)
The reason I was reminded of the bacula tonight was because I was researching the chipmunk, which has one! Other species that have penis bones include bats, other rodents, dogs, mink, foxes, bears, fishers, beavers and (this one is for Reinje!) badgers! The largest bacula belongs to the walrus, which can get to be over 20 inches long! Inuit people use this large bone as a club or as part of dog-sled harnesses!
Primates have penis bones, too! But don't get your hopes up, men; our cousin the chimpanzee's bacula measures only six millimeters in length.
So, why do these animals have dickbones? Scientists aren't completely sure, but do have some theories. Obviously, they help with erections. Dogs start intercourse without having a complete erection, so it is thought that the bacula helps the dog get started. The bone also acts to help the urethra stay open, which is helpful for creatures who have several spurts of semen. Scientists also think the bone helps to better stimulate females who require intercourse before they actually release an egg. Also for animals mating in water or air (bats) the bacula can assist in helping nooky occur.
Raccoons have the largest penis bone in relation to body size. Raccoon nooky lasts for a full hour, which belies the belief that the penis bone is necessary for creatures with much shorter copulation times.
Are y'all educated yet? I'm so excited to present this subject to you!
So learning about the eastern chipmunk (Tamias striatus) might be a little less exciting. But maybe if you picture their little penis bones?
There are about 25 species of chipmunks, who are differentiated from ground squirrels by the fact that chipmunks have stripes on their faces. Members of the Rodentia order, chipmunks are part of the Sciuridae family, which makes them cousins of the true squirrel, marmot and flying squirrel!
Cute chipmunks live in forests, near forests, and in suburban and rural yards. You can recognize a chipmunk hole because it will be about two inches in diameter and there will be no dirt pile outside of it. The chipmunk carries the dirt in his cheek pouches and removes it from the scene! These rodents have a territory that ranges from 50 feet outside its hole to a half acre. There are usually two to four chipmunks per acre on average.
A pic from www.borealforest.org:
From tip to tail the eastern chipmunk is about six inches long. They usually can be seen on the ground (playing grab-ass with each other as R and I observed)but will climb trees to get nuts. They also eat mushrooms, grains, berries, eggs, baby birds (!), insects and carrion. The chipmunks then hide food in their burrows, which contain several food storage chambers, a nest, side pockets, and separate escape tunnels. These chipmunk burrows can measure 20 to 30 feet long.
Chimpmunks, like skunks, don't fully hibernate. They rely on their cached food, and chill out when it is very cold. But the chipmunks wake up in March to make sweet love! Babies are born 31 days later, and become sexually active a year later. Chipmunks usually have two litters a year; the second mating season is in late July.
Chipmunk species are spread all over the western hemisphere, but there is only one species in the old world; Tamias sibiricus, which is closely related to the eastern chipmunk.
I hope you get to see and hear chipmunks soon, and that you think differently the next time you see a raccoon, chipmunk, dog, bat....
Perhaps I should wear my raccoon penis bone as a necklace,