March 17th, 2009


The World's Most Terrifying Penises, Part 4: The Anglerfish

It's been some time, has it not, dear readers? But know that those faithful followers of this fine fare of fact and fancy of fearful fecundity among our fellow creatures' phalluses, that this time has been well-spent, researching and ruminating upon the reproductive regions, from the runty to the regal, of those remarkable relatives among the kingdom Animalia who bear betwixt and amidst their nethers those organs which we have come to know as...

While it may seem a difficult feat to top the horrors and wonders of our dear friends the Bedbugs, nature is nothing if not indulgent and generous with its sources of horror, and so I feel I can now report on a number of additional organisms whose own members are, each in their own way, as deserving of a place on this most prestigious of lists as those who already grace it. But rather than attempting to surpass the Bedbug in its own terms right away (though I am more than willing to present another organism which seems to do so later on), I feel that our next honouree is one which deserves its place here by merit of a sort of existential horror its male-ness seems to inspire.

I speak here of the Anglerfish. Most famous for its distinctive lure, a bio luminescent organ which it dangles before her gruesome bear-trap-like mouth in a manner which is difficult to really see the appeal of without having the comparative misfortune of having evolved in the black and frozen depths of the ocean's deepest depths. One presumes that to the creatures which she preys upon, the sight of a glowing orb suspended in the water is in some other circumstances a source of delight, which is perhaps understandable when one considers the cold and joyless existence that their heredity makes them heir to.

How can you NOT want to swim into that mouth? The Deep-Sea Anglerfish female.

But wait! "her?" Why do I use the female pronoun here? Surely the same applies just as aptly to the male of the species? Oh, ho! Not so, gentle readers! For the Anglerfish is one of the most striking examples in all of nature of sexual dimorphism; the phenomenon of the organisms of two different genders of the same species having dramatically different body types. While the female of the species has the distinctive jaws and lure, to say nothing of tail, fins, eyes, and essentially everything else which one might associate with any type of fish, the adult male angler fish is essentially naught but the piscine equivalent of a cock and balls.

How can this be? How could nature give rise to such an oddity? Or, if you prefer, when Anglerfish-God created the world some 6,000 years ago and created the first Anglerfish male out of clay in his image, what in the world did he look like to give the male of the species such an appearance? (Let it not be said that I do not entertain the premises of creationists and apply them as appropriate.) More to the point, how does such a being continue to survive long enough to procreate at all? Well, therein hangs a tale.

The newborn Deep-Sea Anglerfish, during the few moments of its life during which it is anything but a cock.

When a male Anglerfish is hatched, it is for the most part anatomically complete and functional as we understand fishes to function, though understandably diminutive in scale. There is, however, one glaring omission: The utter lack of a digestive tract. More on this in a moment. Its first instinct upon this moment, thus, is a somewhat peculiar one; rather than seeking out prey to fuel its growth and metabolism, it seeks out a mate. Precocious little scamps, aren't they? Their interest, however is not - or at least not wholly - in getting their newborn infant rocks off. Their sexual appetite is co-mingled with a more nutritional appetite, both of which they intend to satisfy upon locating an adult female. Once they have located the girl of their dreams, their immediate impulse is to swim up to her lower abdomen and immediately begin to consume: latching their teeth into her flesh and chomping down for the first and only time in their lives, they rend her flesh, not only with his teeth, but with a special enzyme whose entire purpose is to destroy not only her flesh but ALSO HIS OWN MOUTH until blood is shed, and then begin to suckle on the thin stream of sanguineous humor which issues forth, at which point, the raw, dissolved mess which was once his mouth joins with her blood vessels, forming one continuous circulatory system, not unlike a fetus inside of its mother's womb. For the adult Anglerfish, this bout of blood-play is the most enticing of all possible foreplay, and a firm indication that she has found in this newborn baby her ideal mate. Her flesh begins at once to heal over the wound and not coincidentally the male which continues to cling to it.

Before long, the male is entirely encased in the scarred-over fish-flesh, and in short order, his various body parts begin to atrophy and wither away. They have, after all, served their purpose in life. Within a short time, all that remains of him is his reproductive organs and the very minimal vascular system which allows it to continue to process his fair lady's blood for the rest of his life, which is spent as a vaguely male lump encased within a wad of scar tissue on the bottom of his mate's belly. His contribution, naturally, to what can only in the most generous of terms be called a "symbiotic" relationship, is to occasionally squirt some sperm towards her so as to allow her to produce the eggs which will give rise to the next generation of females and males who will go on to enjoy similarly mutually-rewarding arrangements.

I suppose there are potentially those among my readership who might take a look at this pairing and - be they male or female - see some merit to it. For the males, the notion of nonstop sex and food for life from a female who asks for nothing in return may seem like it has its rewards. For the female, having her sex drive satisfied without having to put up with male bullshit and chauvinism might seem like an appealing notion from time to time. I would hasten, however, to point out that if this analogy were to be taken to its logical extreme, this would entail a woman passing through the maternity ward of a hospital having a newborn baby boy crawling up her leg, biting through her belly, beginning to thrust up into her and then NEVER, EVER STOPPING.

To me, this makes the male Anglerfish, to a certain value of the words, one of the world's most terrifying penises.