Media ReleaseFrom: The Royal Society
Independent origins of female penis and its coevolution with male vagina in cave insects (Psocodea: Prionoglarididae)
The cave psocid tribe Sensitibillini (Afrotrogla, Neotrogla and Sensitibilla) is of special interest because of its possession of reversed copulatory organs:, i.e., females of Afrotrogla and Neotrogla have a penis-like organ. We present the first molecular phylogeny of Sensitibillini and show that the female penis has evolved twice independently. A correlated evolutionary pattern between male and female genitalia was also detected. This coevolution of genitalia may suggest that sexual conflict or cryptic “male” choice drove the diversity of the female penis, as is the case of male penile diversity in animals with conventional genitalia.