Finding the clitoris: using comparative anatomical methods to describe and characterize the clitorises of alpacas (Vicugna pacos)



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The clitoris, like many female reproductive organs, is a vastly understudied organ with a long history of misunderstanding. Despite poor representation in scientific literature, the clitoris plays an important role in pleasure, behavior, and reproduction among vertebrate animals. Clitoral stimulation has been linked to induced ovulation and increased rates of fertilization in domesticated agricultural animals. Alpaca (Vicugna pacos) clitoris anatomy has not been previously described despite the prevalence of alpaca farms across the world. Alpacas have unusually long copulation for an Artiodactyl (over 20 minutes on average), and a novel pattern of deep intromission with the penis causing abrasion and hematoma of the female mucosal layer along the upper reproductive tract and uterine horns. Through methods of dissection, histology, CT segmentation, and in vivo observation, we found that alpacas have a well-developed clitoris consisting of the primary components of corpus cavernosum, vestibular bulbs, extensive vascularization and innervation, and clitoral muscles. In addition to these expected structures, there is an unusual cartilage prong in the vulvar commissure and a clitoral lamina of unknown origin and composition that partially encircles the cartilage. These are possible subjects of future study.



Alpaca, Anatomy, Clitoris, Histology, CT