Biological Anomaly


Some Identification, Please

With women, I've got a long bamboo pole with a leather loop on the end.
I slip the loop around their necks so they can't get away or come too close.
Like catching snakes...

- Marlon Brando

Note: I now understand that this page depicts a snake's double-headed penis.  I'm sure I should've known that, but I know that now.  Rather than removing this page, I will leave it up for people like me who didn't know what interesting - even pretty in the same way a flower is pretty - genitalia snakes could have.  Also there's maybe a moral here for snakes.

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Snake genitalia?
Date: Tue, 23 Sep 2008 19:09:41 -0400
From: Baroke Builders <>
To: <>

Hi.  Not sure you are a scientific fact source, but if so, I have a question: I recently found a dead blacksnake (caught in some plastic netting).  The reason it had not been able to pass through was that it had two symmetrical protuberances on its underside, near the vent.  They were about 1½" long and ¾" in diameter, ending in a purple, flower-like structure, something like a thistle blossom!

I have digital photos if you're interested.  Any idea what these structures are?  Thanks!

Lewis Caraganis
Siler City, North Carolina USA

I'm not a scientific fact source, but I found your email interesting.  Since the protuberances were symmetrical, that would seem to rule out tumours.  I considered vestigial legs, but all the articles I read said they were mainly found in pythons and would seem to be quite small.  I would really be interested in the photos.  I understand that internal organs can prolapse, but they would come through the vent.

Do you still have the snake?

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: Snake genitalia?
Date: Wed, 24 Sep 2008 12:45:56 -0400
From: Baroke Builders <>

The buzzards have probably eaten the snake by now, but I'll check.  I'll send the photos from my home.


-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: Snake genitalia?
Date: Fri, 10 Oct 2008 12:17:26 -0400
From: Baroke Builders <>

I finally have these photos for you.  Again, the snake was trapped and died in some deer netting near our garden wall.  The remains still exist, though pretty well degraded by buzzards and the weather.  I guess the skeleton may be intact.  Hope you find this interesting.

 I've showed those photos to a number of people, all of whom were fascinated, but none of whom knew any explanation.  Would you mind if I posted them online?  Have you heard any more information yourself?

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: Snake genitalia?
Date: Mon, 20 Oct 2008 10:04:37 -0400
From: Baroke Builders <>

I'm OK with having you post the photos online, but please attribute them to me, for the sake of accuracy.  What is your background?  Are you a herpetologist and/or academic?

I wish I were - but perhaps someone reading this can help.  If you can explain this, please let me know.  Thanks.

-------- Original Message --------
Subject: Re: Odd growth on a snake
Date: Sun, 7 Dec 2008
From: Tlacatecatl Tlacaxipe

Hi Ruth,

Sorry to take so long to get back to you, I don't check this email address very often.  As I think you've discovered, these are the sexual organs of a male snake.  They're called hemipenes, and the male has two, one on each side.  Only one at a time is used, and it's not really known if males have a "handedness" when it comes to using one or the other.  They occur in both snakes and lizards.  They often have hook-like structures that help lock the male in place to ensure that copulation is completed.



The previous three pages are also about snakes - one is about Snakes in Life, the next about Snakes in Art, and the one immediately previous about Art nouveau Snakes.  The "Back" button below will also take you there.

For another lovely example of snakes in art, see the short, graceful animation Snakes based on a woodcut by M C Escher - unfortunately it is 9meg and requires a Flash plugin (but worth it!).  It will open in a new window...

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