A hemipenis (plural hemipenes) is one of a pair of reproductive organs of male squamata (snakes and lizards). Hemipenes are usually held inverted, within the body, and are everted for reproduction via erectile tissue like that in the human penis. Only one is used at a time, and some evidence indicates males alternate use between copulations. The hemipenis itself has a variety of shapes, depending upon species. Often the hemipenis bears spines or hooks, in order to anchor the male within the female. Some species even have forked hemipenes (each hemipenis has two tips). Due to being everted and inverted, hemipenes do not have a completely enclosed channel for the conduction of sperm, but rather a seminal groove which seals as the erectile tissue expands.
|Evereted hemipenis of a snake.|
Author: Koen Stein
Last updated: 21/11/2005
Return to Fossil groups home page