Female ducks can tell if a male's sperm contains diseases

Illustration for article titled Female ducks can tell if a males sperm contains diseases

What if you could tell a potential partner's STD status just by looking at them? That's the evolutionary advantage that ducks appear to have.

It turns out mallard ducks have a problem with the males passing dangerous bacteria on to females during the process of reproduction. The obvious answer? Select for partners with antibacterial sperm. New research shows that not only do some drakes have ejaculate that can kill off Escherichia coli and Staphylococcus aureus, but this trait seems to be linked with how colorful their bills are. It's an external indicator of sperm quality, and allows for females to pick mates that are less likely to give them STDs.

Is there a single thing about duck mating that isn't mind-bendingly terrifying?

Share This Story

Get our newsletter



The truth is even weirder, though.

EDIT: Whoops, wrong comic about ducks. See reply.