Among the many popular names penned to the penis like dick, cock, dong, pecker, and schlong, one that sticks out is undoubtedly the term ‘boner’. Yep, once a flaccid penis gets engorged with blood and dramatically stiffens, the boner takes on the rigidity and feels nothing less than a good chunk of solid bone. However, there is no actual bone material found in its anatomy unless of course you are a male chimp, bear, gorilla, dog, sea lion, rabbit, mouse, or weasel to name a few of those that happen to be endowed with a penis bone called a baculum or os penis.
The baculum is generally kept in the male’s abdomen until it is required, at which point abdominal muscles push it out into the penis, thus causing a quick and effective erection. Sliding a handy stiff bone into the fleshy penis is much easier and more reliable than waiting for the penis to fill with enough blood to maintain an erection long enough to deposit sperm into a female. This erectile speed is of real importance in many species, as mating often has to be quick and opportunistic.
An alpha male lion’s baculum, for instance, allows him to engage in an impressive 250 copulations in four days(an average of 62 per day!). Such a sexual marathon is highly unusual and easily justifies why these dudes are revered as the stud kings of the savannah.
Recent research has revealed an interesting difference in the penis bones of promiscuous house mice when compared to their monogamous counterparts. After breeding 27 generations of mice, the libertine Casanovas had evolved thicker baculums while the homebodies had thinner ones.
The mice equipped with wider baculums also produced more pups than other males. Some scientists have suggested that by making the penis rigid, the baculum lets a male deliver more sperm into a female. Those extra sperm may outnumber those of rival males. Others have suggested that the baculum helps the sperm travel further towards an egg. Still others have proposed that it stimulates the female, triggering ovulation.
Humans supposedly lost the penis bone along our evolutionary journey because of the onset of monogamy in our social mating behavior. Males started to exclusively accompany one female and engage in frequent rapid copulations to ensure the paternity of her children. Conversely, many macho animals face stiff competition to mate with females in estrus(heat). Once connected in coitus, they jealously engage in longer periods of copulation aided by a baculum which helps a male to guard a female from mating with any competitors, increasing his chances of passing on his genetic material.
There is also a female version of the baculum in some species which has a rather lovely name – the “baubellum”, or “os clitoris”. While very little research has been done in this area as well, it seems to be generally accepted that the baubellum (which means “little gem” in Latin) is essentially a bone found in the clitoris whose function remains a mystery. The os clitoris has been found in mice, marmots, seals, cats, bats, bears, squirrels, gibbons, and other animals. One study did uncover a unique connection between a sex hormone and development of the clit bone. Testosterone injections during the early days of life caused female rats to grow a larger os clitoris which closely resembles the male counterpart. Interestingly, testosterone is nowadays used to induce clitoral enlargement as a form of human female genital body modification.
So it appears that quickies with one mate eventually decommissioned the need for having a penis bone and maybe even one for the clitoris so that now we are left to rely on blood pressure and flow to perk up a limp dick or clit. No need to pine, we’re not alone in this depravity given that horses, whales, elephants, rhinos, and a slew of other well-hung animals get boners without a penis bone nor do the females carry a clit bone. Nevertheless, even though humans don’t wield a ‘bona-fide’ os penis or os clitoris, we still conserve in our language remnants of baculum power.
Argumentum ad baculum is Latin for ‘argument to the stick’ and means that an arguer threatens his/her debate opponent with real or threatened violent or nonviolent coercion. Consider Trump’s braggadocio about his penis size in response to Rubio’s insult comedy shtick during a GOP debate and stalking Clinton during the Presidential debates. Geez, maybe the Donald is one of those rare men with an actual os penis since he is often seen as a ‘smirking chimp’.