More Penis Spines!! (or maybe that should be penis bumps)

Posted on March 12, 2011


OK. I will admit that when I wrote the previous post– and the other one about the Nature report over at What Makes Us Human on Psychology Today, where I was perhaps a little more restrained– I did not think it would become a continuing series.

But thanks to a wonderful reader over at PT, Christopher Ryan, I was directed to Eric Michael Johnson’s blog post on this at Zinjanthropus. And in addition to a really wonderful graphic showing variability in primates in these structures, as well as longer and better illustrated debunking of the spines/shorter copulation argument, he provides an absolutely wonderful extra special additional piece of knowledge:

Not all humans have lost their penis spines. Dating back to 1700 anatomists have identified what have now become known as pearly papules (also called Hirsuties coronae glandis)…

Five studies have been done involving nearly 2,000 patients in three separate countries, with an estimate that about 30% of all men develop these papules.

Yes, that’s right. 30% of men in this study have “pearly papules”, which Johnson notes are not all that different from what chimpanzees have, structures he describes as “goose bumps”

only about 0.35mm wide, or the thickness of a human hair. Hardly a structure that would be useful for removing sperm.

Reality is SOOO much more interesting than the simplified version we get from the media, isn’t it?