Advertisement

What makes a human male's genitals unique in the animal kingdom?

Dr. Mehmet Oz, MD
Cardiology (Cardiovascular Disease)
Although slang for an erect penis may indicate otherwise, the human is one of the few mammals that doesn't have a bone in the penis. Many animals have a bone structure called the bacula to help them achieve and maintain erections; humans don't have them because they're cumbersome and prone to injury and because they've developed a better system. The human's penis works on a transportation system of veins and arteries that supply blood to the organ to make it erect.

Because men don't have bony structures that could get in the way, they can have a disproportionately large penis for their bodies. Really. Compared to many other primates, the human penis is larger. This helps with attracting child-bearing partners.

But the trade-off is that the human male's testes are tiny compared to other species like chimpanzees.

When a female chimp goes into heat, she copulates with as many males as she can in order to ensure that she produces offspring. All the adult males then protect the child because it could be theirs. So chimp testes need to be big to produce large quantities of sperm because their sperm fight with other sperm for the right to the egg.

Because human males theoretically don't have to compete with other men, their testes don't need to produce an oil rig's worth of sperm. Their testes don't need to be as large (and thank goodness-considering how many times men's groins have been greeted by an errant baseball).
YOU: The Owner's Manual, Updated and Expanded Edition: An Insider's Guide to the Body that Will Make You Healthier and Younger

More About this Book

YOU: The Owner's Manual, Updated and Expanded Edition: An Insider's Guide to the Body that Will Make You Healthier and Younger

Between your full-length mirror and high-school biology class, you probably think you know a lot about the human body. While it's true that we live in an age when we're as obsessed with our bodies as...

Continue Learning about Men's Health

For a Healthy Heart, Don't Skip Vacation
For a Healthy Heart, Don't Skip Vacation
Next time you're tempted to skip a vacation, consider this: That holiday is good for your heart. In this Health Smarts video, Dr. Oz explains why vaca...
Read More
What is erectile dysfunction (ED)?
dLife - It's YOUR Diabetes Life!dLife - It's YOUR Diabetes Life!
Erectile dysfunction (ED), sometimes called "impotence," is the repeated inability to get or keep an...
More Answers
5 Reasons Men Avoid the Doctor, But Shouldn't
5 Reasons Men Avoid the Doctor, But Shouldn't5 Reasons Men Avoid the Doctor, But Shouldn't5 Reasons Men Avoid the Doctor, But Shouldn't5 Reasons Men Avoid the Doctor, But Shouldn't
Don't like tests? Too busy? Embarrassed? Go anyway. It could save your life.
Start Slideshow
Tips to Help Men Prevent Osteoporosis
Tips to Help Men Prevent Osteoporosis

Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.