Category Archives: Reproduction

Further Research into Artificial Wombs Brings Us Closer to a Future Where Babies Grow Outside the Body – Dom Galeon. 


Around 15 million babies are born preterm or premature every year, according to the World Health Organization. This number is expected to rise, bringing more infants into the world before completing 37 weeks of gestation. How we are going to care for a growing number of premature infants is a real concern: preterm birth complications were responsible for almost a million deaths in 2015, making it the leading cause of death among children below 5 years of age.

Thankfully, there are a number of interventions that can help, many of which involve developing better incubation chambers, even artificial wombs and placentas where the premature infants can continue their growth outside the womb. One of these is an artificial womb developed by a combined team of researchers from the Women and Infants Research Foundation, the University of Western Australia, and Tohoku University Hospital, Japan.  

“Designing treatment strategies for extremely preterm infants is a challenge,” lead researcher Matt Kemp said in a press release. “At this gestational age the lungs are often too structurally and functionally under-developed for the baby to breathe easily.” Their work, published in the American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology, took a different approach. The key was treating the preterm infants not as babies, but as fetuses.


Their device and method successfully incubated healthy baby lambs in an ex-vivo uterine environment (EVE) for a one-week period. “At its core, our equipment is essentially is a high-tech amniotic fluid bath combined with an artificial placenta. Put those together, and with careful maintenance what you’ve got is an artificial womb,” Kemp explained.

He added in the press release, “By providing an alternative means of gas exchange for the fetus, we hoped to spare the extremely preterm cardiopulmonary system from ventilation-derived injury, and save the lives of those babies whose lungs are too immature to breathe properly. The end goal is to provide preterm babies the chance to better develop their lungs and other important organs before being brought into the world.” It’s this approach that makes it revolutionary.

The scientists hope that this EVE therapy could soon help bring preterm human babies to term. “We now have a much better understanding of what works and what doesn’t, and although significant development is required, a life support system based around EVE therapy may provide an avenue to improve outcomes for extremely preterm infants.”



The Boneless Boner. How monogamy killed the Penis Bone – Carrie Weisman. 

Because sex is responsible for the creation of new life, we don’t often associate it with loss. But our mating habits may be to blame for the disappearance of something inside ourselves, leading some to ask, what was the human penis bone, and where did it go?

The baculum, as it’s more formally known, has been described as the “most diverse bone” ever to exist, or certainly the most individualized. Believed to have “evolved in mammals more than 95 million years ago,” the size of the penis bone changes from owner to owner. In chimpanzees, the penis bone is roughly the size of a human fingernail. In walruses, it measures upward of two feet. In humans, it simply doesn’t exist. Or doesn’t exist anymore.

The penis bone grew larger in males who engaged in something called “prolonged intromission,” a fancy phrase that refers to sex lasting more than three minutes. While these days, lengthy sex sessions are linked to pleasure and stamina, evolution offers a more practical reason for shagging so long.

A male who spends more time penetrating a female has a better chance of impregnating her. At the same time, a long romp helps keep her away from the competition. It’s believed that males with longer penis bones are armed with more structural support to accomplish that task.

But somewhere around 1.9 million years ago, something changed in human mating habits. We started pairing off. We started to practice monogamy. Males no longer had to worry so much about competing figures impregnating their female partners, and it was no longer necessary for sex to last more than, say, three minutes.

“We think that is when the human baculum would have disappeared because the mating system changed at that point. This may have been the final nail in the coffin for the already diminished baculum, which was then lost in ancestral humans.

With the reduced competition for mates, you are less likely to need a Bacula. Despite what we might want to think, we are actually one of the species that comes in below the three minute cut-off where these things come in handy.”

So we might have monogamy to thank for the boneless boner.


The baculum (also penis bonepenile bone or os penis) is a bone found in the penis of many placental animals. It is absent in the human penis, but present in the penises of other primates, such as the gorilla and chimpanzee. The bone is located above the male urethra, and it aids sexual reproduction by maintaining sufficient stiffness during sexual penetration. The homologue to the baculum in female mammals is known as the baubellum or os clitoridis, a bone in the clitoris.