Scientists know that dolphins are very social. They have sex to forge and maintain social bonds. And that’s what a recent study on them points to. Something that had never been taken much into account, at least scientifically. It is the functional clitoris of dolphins. This would make stimulation during copulation likely.
Pleasure in female dolphins
And it would have many sensory nerves and erectile bodies. Details are published in Current Biology. “Everything suggests that it works to provide pleasure to females,” explains first author Patricia Brennan. She is a professor at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts, USA.
They looked at clitorises from 11 females that had died naturally. They analyzed how nerve fibers coursed through the tissues. What they saw supports the notion of a functional clitoris in dolphins. “You have large areas of erectile tissue that fill with blood,” Brennan says.
The shape of the erectile tissue changes as the animals become adults. It has large nerves and many free nerve endings just under the skin. They also found genital corpuscles. They are very similar to those described above in the human clitoris and in the tip of the penis. They are known to be involved in the pleasure response.
Brennan says that dolphin erectile bodies are “strikingly similar” to the shape of human erectile bodies. “It was surprising to see how similar the shapes were,” he stresses.
The researchers point out that little study has been done on the clitoris and female sexual pleasure in nature. In fact, even the human clitoris was not fully described until the 1990s.
“This is an oversight in the study of female sexuality,” Brennan laments. “We need to study and understand sexual behaviors in nature. It is a fundamental part of understanding the animal experience. It may even have important medical applications in the future.” The functional clitoris of dolphins shows that these animals, it seems, are having even more fun than they look.