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An overwhelming majority of birds don’t have penises. Ducks, however, sport members so large they can extend longer than their entire bodies. For years, scientists have wondered why the discrepancy exists, and now, thanks to an inventive new research project, we may have a real answer.

According to Discovery, male birds begin to grow penises while in the development stage, but prior to being born, a protein in most is released that shrinks the penis and ultimately reduces it down to a small opening called a cloaca that is used for mating purposes. Researchers were able to identify the aforementioned protein, and when it was withheld, the birds grew penises similar to swans, geese and other member-wielding flyers.

We may have come a long way in our collective understanding of evolution, but there are some matters that still stump scientists. This would be a good example of that. In general, one would theorize that male birds with larger penises would be more successful when it comes to breeding, but in the case of the 97% of bird species without penises, it would seem females preferred males who were less-endowed, which ultimately eliminated the penis entirely. Maybe it’s because they have more say when it comes to breeding when males capable of forcing themselves on females are eliminated. Maybe it’s because of an unknown factor scientists have yet to pin down.

Regardless, for the sake of people the world over, I truly hope the human race never develops this protein. After all, I’ve seen birds mate before, and while it’s no more or less awkward than what we do, it sure as hell doesn’t seem like as much fun.

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