close up photo of bat
Photo by Miriam Fischer on

Scientists have solved the mystery of one of the animal kingdom's most disproportionately large penises thanks to a Dutch retiree recording bat sex in a church attic.

The serotine bat does not use its strangely large penis for penetration, but instead as a "copulatory arm" during mating, a European team of researchers said on Monday.

This marks the first time that a mammal has been documented reproducing without having penetrative sex, the researchers added.

The serotine bat, which has a wingspan of more than 35 centimetres, is common in woodlands across Europe and Asia.

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