Sometimes when you’re a journalist, sources leak you important, cool documents that help advance a story you’re working on. And sometimes when you’re a journalist, sources leak you LISTSERV postings about penises. Tuesday night, I was forwarded a posting from a big sex-researcher LISTSERV. “I received the accompanying request,” it began. “If anyone can help please contact [redacted] directly with cc to me.”
Then the request itself:
As explained below, as a researcher for Guinness World Records, I have been asked to verify whether there are any reliable medical/academic reports of past or present exceptionally long male genital organs and what possible conditions can be linked to them?
Because this is a sensitive issue, we want to adopt a medical approach: the intention is to provide factually accurate information on this topic. I would also like to clarify that we do not accept applications from the public on this topic.
One can’t help but imagine that that last sentence comes hard-won, after hours of unpleasant experiences wading through thousands of letters and emails, many of them with photos attached.
Back when I was a kid, the The Guinness Book of Records was a very big deal. Anyone who showed up at school with a copy was guaranteed at least a few hours of everyone hovered around them, asking to look up the world’s tallest man or smallest dog or clumsiest dolphin or whatever. These days, there’s a website, of course, though the book still exists as well — the 2016 edition was published in September.
Being a diligent journalist, I typed penis into the search box of the website — not gonna say whether I giggled while doing so — and 53 results arose. Unfortunately, many of them had nothing to do with penises: “Tightest frying pan roll of two pans” and “Tightest frying pan roll of three pans” both popped up — each fascinating in its own right, but not what I was looking for. What kind of a search function gives false positives for penis? Isn’t that the first term you’re supposed to type in to make sure everything is working right?
Anyway, a few of the hits actually were about penises. There’s the world’s oldest penis, which seems like a missed opportunity for a “your dad” joke:
The oldest fossilised penis discovered to date dates back around 100 million years. It belongs to a crustacean called an ostracod, discovered in Brazil and measuring just 1mm across. The discovery was announced in September 2002 at the British Association for the Advancement of Science Festival in Leicester, UK.
There’s also the world’s loudest penis:
The loudest penis is that of a tiny European species of aquatic freshwater insect. Micronecta scholtzi is a very small water boatman, just 2 mm long, but when it rubs its penis against its abdomen (a process known as stridulation, which serves to attract a mate), the chirping noise created can be up to 99.2 decibels. This is equivalent to sitting in the front row listening to a loud orchestra playing.
Front row at the orchestra!
Inexcusably, when I clicked on “longest animal penis,” which according to the preview text “belongs to the blue whale at up to 2.4 m (8 ft),” I got a “Page Not Found” error. Maybe the staff at Guinness World Records should spend a little less time searching for new penises and a little more time making sure the ones they already have function properly.