Barnacles have the largest penises, relative to body size, in the animal kingdom, and now some are going into the record books for yet another feat: They can capture sperm directly from water.
The unique "shoot and catch" system marks a first for crustaceans, which were previously all thought to copulate in some fashion. Now we know that process is less intimate, at least for barnacles - most of which are hermaphrodites, possessing both male and female sexual organs.
Who knew that barnacles, which many of us probably see when scraping them off of boat bottoms, had such interesting "love" lives?
Marjan Barazandeh of the University of Alberta and colleagues made the determination after collecting common northeast Pacific, intertidal gooseneck barnacles, Pollicipes polymerus.