Female dolphins have clitorises just like human women – only theirs are bigger and better placed suggesting they have better sex sessions.
A group of diligent scientists discovered that lady bottlenose dolphins have large and well-developed sex organs meaning they could achieve orgasms.
They said the structure of the tissue suggests the dolphin clitoris may expand, for example, in response to stimulation. Their findings were published in Experimental Biology.
The researchers discovered that the skin under the clitoral hood contains “bundles” of nerves that may increase sensitivity and the potential for pleasure, as has been found in the human clitoris.
Previous studies suggest sex plays an important role in social bonding among dolphins, as seen in other social species.
Researchers said that dolphins have sex all year round – even during periods when they cannot conceive.
Study co-leader Dr. Dara Orbach, a research associate at Mount Holyoke College, said: “In dolphins, the clitoris is positioned at the entrance of the vaginal opening and in direct contact with the penis during copulation, unlike the external position of the clitoris in humans.”
Sex in the sea
“The location of the clitoris near the vaginal opening indicates it can potentially be easily stimulated during copulation.”
She added that further research was needed, including “physiological and behavioral analyses” to categorically confirm whether sex is pleasurable for lady dolphins.
The research team studied 11 dolphins that had died naturally and were collected under a permit authorized by the National Marine Fisheries Service in the US.
To explore the anatomy of the dolphin clitoris, they performed dissections, created 3D CT scans, fixed the tissues in paraffin wax and stained them to examine their structure in detail.
They found that dolphins have a clitoral hood where two areas of extensive erectile tissue merge into a single body, shape and structure very similar to the human clitoris.
In both humans and dolphins, the erectile tissue of the clitoris is larger than the clitoral hood.
The researchers said that the thin, folded nature of the skin around the clitoral hood suggests the dolphin clitoris may expand during periods of engorgement and increased sensitivity.
However, the dolphin clitoris is located in a different position relative to the vaginal opening than in humans.
In another contrast with human anatomy, the researchers did not find in the bottlenose dolphins any evidence of a vestibular bulb – an area of erectile tissue that surrounds the vaginal opening in humans and contributes to orgasms.
Orbach added: “Very little is known about female reproductive morphology in most wild vertebrate species.”
“This research provides a comparative framework to explore other functions of sex that may not be unique to humans. We are on the precipice of a deeper understanding of the relationship between form and function of genitalia.”
She is due to present the findings of the study at the American Association of Anatomists annual meeting in Orlando, Florida.