Jason and the Argonaut’s Detachable Penis

The argonaut, or paper nautilus, is a small octopus found in the open-ocean known for their attractive shells.  In fact it’s only the females of the species that produce the shells, whereas the males of the species are dwarfed and shell-less, but I would say equally magnificent. Why, you ask? On account of their detachable penis, of course.

Like many octopi, the male argonaut’s third left arm develops into a “hectocotylus,” (octopus penis) which the male is able to detach for copulation. What makes the argonaut’s hectocotylus unusual is that once detached it can swim on its own to the female, where it then attaches within her “pallial cavity” (octopus vagina). And unlike most male octopi, which die soon after dispensing with their hectocotylus, the argonaut is fortunate enough to grow his hectocotylus back annually for each new mating season.

I must admit: the idea of a detachable penis is compelling. For instance, imagine you are in a crowded reception hall, say for a conference on comparative animal physiology, and standing alone by the vegetable tray is an olive-skinned beauty who might be from Portugal or some other Mediterranean country. Maybe South America, hard to say. You can’t make out her name tag from here–looks like “B”-something. But yeah, she is definitely by herself. Now, instead of having to physically approach this woman yourself, you could just detach your penis and cast it off in her direction and let fate decide, giving you at least a chance to overcome the insurmountable odds for copulation.

Of course, there are drawbacks. If your penis is detached, you must be detached from its sensory experiences as well. Seeing it in action might give a vicarious thrill or two, but this is unlikely to make up for the feelings of castrated emptiness that will last until you grow a new penis.

More worrisome is the possibility of the autonomous unit “going rogue”. Once it is detached, how are we to ensure it carries out our design, and doesn’t start to, you know, do some gay stuff? I mean, if it did, would this make the host gay, or just the penis?

The social implications are troubling as well. What would it be like to be an attractive woman in this society?  Imagine poor Beatriz, hounded her whole life by detached penises, finally reaching a breaking point when an errant penis knocks the snack plate out from her delicate hands, deciding to end her life right there, right in front of everyone, with a dull plastic knife covered in ranch dip.

I can’t let that happen. No–I won’t let that happen.

Futher Reading:

[1] http://animaldiversity.ummz.umich.edu/site/accounts/information/Argonauta_nodosa.html

[2] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hectocotylus

[3] http://www.malacsoc.org.uk/the_Malacologist/BULL46/argonauts.htm

[4] http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=byDiILrNbM4 (King Missle – Detachable Penis)

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One Comment on “Jason and the Argonaut’s Detachable Penis”

  1. […] dreamt about Beatrice again last night. I was back at the conference, mingling in the reception hall. Bartleby was boring […]


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