People following biologists on Twitter got a bit of a surprise this morning: their feed is full of genitals. They can blame Anne Hilborn (@AnneWHilborn) and a few of her colleagues at the Department of Fish and Wildlife Conservation at Virginia Tech.

Last night, Hilborn’s labmate Chris Rowe (@chrisrowebot) and their research supervisor Marcella Kelly (@marcellakelly) were posting pictures of animal genitals on their lab’s Twitter account (@Whapavt). When Hilborn added some more from her collection, one of their readers called it a “junk-off”. And thus a hashtag was born.

Says Hilborn, “I figured if I had lots of junk pictures, other biologists would too since pretty much all biologists love junk.” She posted the challenge, and got things started with a few snaps from her African field sites.

Advertisement

The entomologists and malacologists got on board fast.

And before long, biologists were coming out of the woodwork to show off exactly how complex and bizarre animal genitals can get.

Sponsored

Botanists showed up to show that plants and fungi have their own version of genital organs: displaying heavily swollen anthers...

...And fungal reproductive structures that happen to look like some other reproductive organs.

The thread leaned heavily toward male anatomy, but females weren’t completely ignored...

There’s more in the #JunkOff stream by the minute. Go check it out.


Contact the author at diane@io9.com.