In this video, evolutionary biologist Patty Brennan discusses her research, which focuses on understanding the myriad genital structures of a wide variety of animals. While some might find it curious that someone studies that topic, her work has focused on areas where very little or nothing is known.
She and her team model the genital structure of animals, and investigate the characteristics of the tissues that compose the organs. One aim of the work is to reveal the evolutionary pressures that created the physiology and architecture. In the video you can see the molds of some of the animal genitalia she studies, like that of the mako shark and several different snakes including the timber rattlesnake.
Brennan has also written a commentary on why such basic science is important, for a variety of reasons. She reminds us that it has the potential to engage and inspire the public, it can help us to understand more about the success of various species over others in an evolutionary sense, and can reveal the biology behind sexual behaviors. In a more general sense, this kind of research can be fun and engaging to the general public.