fruit bat photo from AAAS
Only human?? If you're like me, you're constantly adding to your mental list of traits that were once attributed only to humans, but now we know they're not unique to homo sapiens. Now, you can add fellatio to that list.
The fruit bat is one species recently added to the short list of animals we now know practice fellatio. According to ScienceNow, the authors speculate that the fellatio may be beneficial for several reasons:
"One idea is that it may facilitate sperm transport. Or it could keep males occupied--and thus away from rival females. Fellatio may also offer protection against sexually transmitted diseases, based on the antimicrobial properties of saliva.....Although it's possible ...that bats are just being sexually playful, like their human and bonobo counterparts."
Here is the abstract of this recent paper from the open-access PLOS journal by Tan et al. (see link below for free full text):
Oral sex is widely used in human foreplay, but rarely documented in other animals. Fellatio has been recorded in bonobos Pan paniscus, but even then functions largely as play behaviour among juvenile males. The short-nosed fruit bat Cynopterus sphinx exhibits resource defence polygyny and one sexually active male often roosts with groups of females in tents made from leaves. Female bats often lick their mate's penis during dorsoventral copulation. The female lowers her head to lick the shaft or the base of the male's penis but does not lick the glans penis which has already penetrated the vagina. Males never withdrew their penis when it was licked by the mating partner. A positive relationship exists between the length of time that the female licked the male's penis during copulation and the duration of copulation. Furthermore, mating pairs spent significantly more time in copulation if the female licked her mate's penis than if fellatio was absent. Males also show postcopulatory genital grooming after intromission. At present, we do not know why genital licking occurs, and we present four non-mutually exclusive hypotheses that may explain the function of fellatio in C. sphinx.
Free full text of article in PLOS online: