Science | January 15, 2021 1:06 pm

Here’s What We Know About Neanderthal Penises

In case you were wondering

A few words on prehistoric penises
A few words on prehistoric penises
Getty Images/iStockphoto

Thanks to science, we’ve known for some time that early humans had sex with Neanderthals. For some carnally inquisitive minds, however, mere knowledge of these encounters isn’t enough — some of us, apparently, want the details. Fortunately, scientists have those too, or at least some of them, and BBC recently blessed us with a massive guide to Neanderthal sex.

According to this massive compendium of information, scientists have apparently been very busy piecing together information about our ancestors’ prehistoric sex lives. Among the article’s many insights into Neanderthal sex is info on kissing (they probably did it), sleeping around (they probably did that too) and STIs (we probably got HIV from our ancestors’ Neanderthal hookups, but we gave them herpes in exchange). And, perhaps most importantly, science can tell us a thing or two about Neanderthal dicks.

For one thing, Neanderthal penises didn’t have spines. Yes, spines. As it turns out, smooth penises are rather unique to humans. According to BBC, most other penises out there in the wild are covered in “penile spines,” or tiny barbs. But these spiky penises found on even our closest next-door species like chimps are not ribbed for anyone’s pleasure. Rather, penile spines are “thought to have evolved to clear out the sperm of competing males, or to lightly chafe the female’s vagina and put her off having sex again for a while.”

This sounds horrifying, but fortunately for human vagina-havers of today, the genetic code for penile spines is lacking from Neanderthal genomes. This, according to BBC, suggests penile spines vanished from human ancestors at least 800,000 years ago. Apparently a lack of penile spines is related to human’s (generally) monogamous nature, (I guess you don’t feel the need to chafe your partner’s vagina if you know you’ve got it on lock) so the fact that Neanderthals didn’t have them either suggests that while they may have slept around on occasion, our prehistoric ancestors were probably monogamous too. So regardless of how you feel about monogamy, you have a Neanderthal’s smooth dick to either thank or blame.

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