Chinese Fruit Bats Demonstrate Unusual Sexual Behavior Never Before Seen in Adult Animals

greater short-nosed fruit bat photo

Greater short-nosed fruit bat feeding on kapok, photo: Wikipedia.

New research published in the online journal PLoS ONE demonstrates for the first time that a non-human adult animal species regularly engages in oral sex behavior. While the behavior has been seen in juvenile animals before, this is the first time it has been observed in adult animals. Warning: While the following information is scientifically accurate, some of the descriptions are slightly graphic. Prepare to enter the fascinating world of fruit bat fellatio. Though it has been observed previously in bonobos (both heterosexually and homosexually), this behavior generally has been confined to juvenile animals, the authors of the new study note.

Activity May Increase Copulation Time
The field research, which was conducted in Guangzhou City, China, reveals that in the case of the greater short-nosed fruit bat (Cynopterus sphinx) female species-on-male species oral sex now has been documented as a regular occurrence. Scientists observed that in instances where oral sex was performed, copulation time increased.

fruit bat fellatio screen grab

Screengrab: PLoS ONE
Benefits of Longer Copulation
As to why this behavior occurs, the paper's authors propose several adaptive hypotheses that merit further study:

1) The activity may increase lubrication and thus prolong copulation, in turn assisting transport the transport of sperm or stimulating secretions in the female bat's pituitary gland, thereby increasing the likelihood of fertilization.

2) Prolonged copulation may be a form of "mate-guarding" -- that is, claiming a single a partner and protecting that partner against sexual activity with other bats.

3) The activity may help prevent sexually transmitted diseases, as saliva has "a protective repertoire that goes beyond antibacterial activity to include antifungal, antichlamydial, and antiviral properties as well," according to the report.

4) The activity may "facilitate the detection and identification of MHC-dependent chemical cues associated with mate choice," say the scientists.

Read the whole paper: Fellatio by Fruit Bats Prolongs Copulation Time (Warning: Contains some graphic descriptions.)

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