NCBI ROFL: Best materials and methods ever.

By ncbi rofl | March 15, 2010 6:00 pm

469473526_06d88612a1Response of brown tree snakes (Boiga irregularis) to human blood

“Ten specimens of Boiga irregularis were presented with clean or bloody tampons. The latter were used by women during menses. Trial duration was 60 sec, intertrial interval was 24 hr, and the dependent variable was rate of tongue flicking (a measure of chemosensory investigation). Bloody tampons elicited significantly more tongue flicking than did control tampons. An additional snake is shown attacking and ingesting a soiled tampon, confirming that chemosensory interest was associated with predatory behavior.”


Bonus figure legend from the main text of the paper (we decided to spare you the actual figure):

“FIG. 1. (A) A brown tree snake investigates a soiled tampon suspended into its cage.
(B) Seconds later the snake bites the tampon. (C) About 2 min following the bite, the
snake is shown with only the string remaining unswallowed. This snake then struck and
swallowed a second soiled tampon.”

Thanks to Aaron for today’s ROFL!

Photo: flickr/jurvetson

Related content:
Discoblog: NCBI ROFL: Cooperation and individuality among man-eating lions.
Discoblog: NCBI ROFL: Friday the 13th special: Blood and tissue spatter associated with chainsaw dismemberment.
Discoblog: NCBI ROFL: fun with animals.

  • Meredith

    This should really be re-titled NCBI WTF. WTF were they thinking?!

  • Josh

    I was wondering about the source of their materials, but unfortunately the Acknowledgments was a bit cryptic…

    “Acknowledgments–The authors thank J. Chiszar and E. Goldberg for help with various aspects of our work with brown tree snakes…”

  • Art

    That’s messed up.

  • Amos Zeeberg (Discover Web Editor)

    Reminds one of an old joke about what vampires drink…

  • Joanna Cake

    You’d think they’d credit the women who provided the samples! 😛

    Seriously tho, would the results be affected by whatever it was the women had been ingesting in the previous few days? If they had been eating or drinking something else that tickled a snake’s fancy, would that not affect the sample and put some doubt as to whether the snakes were sniffing the blood per se or something in the blood…?

  • Michelle

    Aren’t they afraid they are teaching snakes to attack women on their period? 😛

  • scott

    I’ve always heard that menstruating women should be more wary of bear attacks when camping. Now they have to worry about snakes eating their tampons as well?

    I can see the marketing potential in this: “New Backwoods Tampex. With our patented Kevlar Panty-Liners, they’re now 300% more fang-resistant that those other brands.”

  • Steve

    Kinda reminds me of my grad program in Forensic Science. Most of the students were females. I wonder if they made the connection between me and the other few males in the program and the sperm samples we extracted DNA from in class.

  • Little Evie

    Can I assume someone, somewhere is raising an army of woman-hunting snakes?

  • Xenobio

    Volunteers who provide blood samples etc in studies usually aren’t credited by name.


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About ncbi rofl

NCBI ROFL is the brainchild of two Molecular and Cell Biology graduate students at UC Berkeley and features real research articles from the PubMed database (which is housed by the National Center for Biotechnology information, aka NCBI) that they find amusing (ROFL is a commonly-used internet acronym for "rolling on the floor, laughing"). Follow us on twitter: @ncbirofl


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