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Comparative Morphology of the Penis and Clitoris in Four Species of Moles (Talpidae).


The penile and clitoral anatomy of four species of Talpid moles (broad-footed, star-nosed, hairy-tailed, and Japanese shrew moles) were investigated to define penile and clitoral anatomy and to examine the relationship of the clitoral anatomy with the presence or absence of ovotestes. The ovotestis contains ovarian tissue and glandular tissue resembling fetal testicular tissue and can produce androgens. The ovotestis is present in star-nosed and hairy-tailed moles, but not in broad-footed and Japanese shrew moles. Using histology, three-dimensional reconstruction, and morphometric analysis, sexual dimorphism was examined with regard to a nine feature masculine trait score that included perineal appendage length (prepuce), anogenital distance, and presence/absence of bone. The presence/absence of ovotestes was discordant in all four mole species for sex differentiation features. For many sex differentiation features, discordance with ovotestes was observed in at least one mole species. The degree of concordance with ovotestes was highest for hairy-tailed moles and lowest for broad-footed moles. In relationship to phylogenetic clade, sex differentiation features also did not correlate with the similarity/divergence of the features and presence/absence of ovotestes. Hairy-tailed and Japanese shrew moles reside in separated clades, but they exhibit a high degree of congruence. Broad-footed and hairy-tailed moles reside within the same clade but had one of the lowest correlations in features and presence/absence of ovotestes. Thus, phylogenetic affinity and the presence/absence of ovotestes are poor predictors for most sex differentiation features within mole external genitalia.

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