Orange rimmed Flatworm

Orange rimmed Flatworm24″x36″

Orange-rimmed Flatworm
cf. Maiazoon orsaki


Kingman Reef, Line Islands, Central Pacific Ocean

NOAA Vessel Hi’ialakai, shipboard studio

Archival Pigment Print

Hermaphroditism, wherein an individual has both male and female systems, is not uncommon among invertebrates. As humans, we might not readily appreciate the advantages of an all-in-one arrangement, but it could be adaptive under certain circumstances. For example, if other members of your species are few and far between, it might not be a bad idea to be able to reproduce with whomever you bump into; you might not get another chance before you’re eaten. Some flatworms take things even further by having more than one complete system for each gender; the animal here has two penises and three-to-five female openings, the benefits of which are open to speculation.