Is there anything worse than humanity? Between the Charleston shootings, the rash of killings of unarmed men by law enforcement, and ISIS, our species has fewer and fewer unashamed apologists.
Surely humanity is the worst.
Until and unless of course you look at any other species. Then, holy crap, all bets are off. We start to look good and suddenly everyone remembers fish have yet to produce a Michelangelo.
You see, scientists have recently discovered Macrostotum hystrix, a worm so disgusting you’re liable to start thinking that even jazz fusion wasn’t so bad by comparison.
As Discovery News’s Jennifer Viegas put it, “One of the most unusual methods of reproduction has just been observed in a flatworm that uses its needle-like penis to stab itself in the head, which leads to egg fertilization.” And to existential horror, she neglects to add.
The Vikings, it seems, were right. This microscopic oroboros signals a Hellraiser-style cyclicality to the makeup of the world; simultaneously, a teeny-weeny Jörmungandr that announces the end of the world and its illusionary purchase on reason and human sanity.
Scientists call this disgusting onanistic method of reproduction “selfing.” (Somehow selfies now seem even more objectionably self-referential.)
In a new paper in the scientific journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, Prof. Steven and his team from Switzerland’s University of Basel explain that this sort of thing is not nearly as rare as it ought to be, even in a post-lapsarian world.
It “occurs in a broad range of hermaphroditic plants and animals, and is often thought to evolve as a reproductive assurance strategy under ecological conditions that disfavor or prevent (breeding with an unrelated species).”
Macrostotum hystrix can also get it on with another of its kind, no doubt another nefarious result of OBERGEFELL ET AL. vs. HODGES, DIRECTOR, OHIO DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH ET AL. Usually selfing and hermaphroditism is not found in the same organism.
Image via Wikimedia