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Scientists declare bush cricket top of the testes class

The animal kingdom has a new record holder – a cricket has the largest male organs in relation to its body mass.

Karim Vahed with a tuberous bush cricket, and its testes.
Karim Vahed with a tuberous bush cricket, and its testes.
Image: University of Derby

THE ANIMAL KINGDOM HAS gained a new record holder, after natural scientists declared a species of cricket to be in possession of the largest testes, relative to its size, of any creature.

The tuberous bush cricket (or platycieis affinis) has testes that account for 14% – about a seventh – of its entire weight, according to studies at the universities of Cambridge and Derby.

“These really are quite phenomenal testes,” said Karim Vahed, an ecologist at the latter university who led the study.

“They take up nearly the whole of the bush cricket’s abdomen. It just shows how competitive reproduction is for some species. If you can’t spread your genes, that’s it in terms of evolution,” he told the Guardian.

If the same proportion was scaled up to a human, their testes would weigh 11lbs each.

Publishing their research in the Biology Letters journal, Vehad’s team explains that larger testes are usually found in animals where females mate repeatedly with different males.

By carrying larger testes, males produce more sperm and help to muscle out others, thus boosting their chances of passing on their genes – an important attribute, as female tuberous bush crickets mate with up to 23 different males in their two-month adult life.

Although the size of the testes does not necessarily mean that the cricket produces more sperm, studies showed that the their size meant male crickets were able to mate again within an hour, while other species with smaller testes took five days to repapre.

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Gavan Reilly

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