Have you noticed that there’s less road kill out there nowadays? No? Me neither, but these scientists have, and they used their 30 years of data on swallow populations (including those found squished on roads) to try to figure out why. You might think that there are simply fewer swallows out there, but you would be wrong. In fact, a smaller percentage of them are getting hit by cars. Turns out that birds with longer wings are more likely to get run over, possibly because they “have lower wing loading and do not allow as vertical a take-off as shorter, more rounded wings.” As those longer-winged birds were being selected against by cars, the population as a whole evolved shorter wings and hence have become less likely to end up as road kill. Evolution in action!
“An estimated 80 million birds are killed by colliding with vehicles on U. S. roads each year, and millions more die annually in Europe and elsewhere. Losses to vehicles are a serious problem for which various changes in roadway design and maintenance have been proposed. Yet, given the magnitude of the mortality reported for some species, we might expect natural selection to favor individuals that either learn to avoid cars or that have other traits making them less likely to collide with vehicles. If so, the frequency of road kill should decline over time. Read More
Doctors spend much of their time staring at body parts. Specialists spend an even higher percentage of their time staring at the body part that is their particular area of expertise. So, I guess it should come as no surprise that they like to tell each other about the crazy-looking examples they find. And how do doctors tell each other things? By publishing a paper, of course! Some of our favorites include a tumor that looked like the Easter bunny, and an endoscopy result that resembled a jack-o-lantern. Here’s one where a patient’s aortic valve (the valve the prevents blood from flowing back into the heart once pumped out) looked like a four-leaf clover, instead of the Mercedes-Benz emblem it should have (note the helpful figure from the paper). Read More
In this study, the researchers found that being traditionally masculine was correlated with energy drink use. Surprisingly, though, being a jock or frat guy actually weakened this effect. Wondering how “masculinity” is scientifically measured? Why, using the Conformity to Masculine Norms Inventory, of course! It includes the following categories: Emotional Control, Risk-Taking, Violence, Dominance, Self-Reliance, Primacy of Work, Power Over Women, Disdain for Homosexuals, Pursuit of Status, Playboy, and (… wait for it …) WINNING!
Energy Drink Use and Its Relationship to Masculinity, Jock Identity, and Fraternity Membership Among Men.
The present study examined whether previous findings linking masculinity constructs and health behaviors applied to a relatively recent health risk behavior for men, the consumption of energy drinks. In addition, it also examined whether self-identifying as a jock and being a member of a fraternity would moderate the relationships between masculinity constructs and energy drink consumption. Read More
Semen quality appears to have declined over the past decades but reasons for this decline are unresolved. The concurrent increase in sedentary behaviour may be a contributing factor. The objective of this study was to evaluate the relationship of physical activity and television (TV) watching with sperm parameters in a population of young, healthy men.
Men aged 18-22 years (n=189) from the Rochester Young Men’s Study (2009-2010) participated in this analysis. Physical activity (h/week of moderate and vigorous exercise) and TV watching (h/week of TV, video or DVD watching) over the past 3 months were assessed via questionnaire. Semen quality was assessed by sperm concentration, motility, morphology and total sperm count. Read More
“Background: Crocodilians exhibit a spectrum of rostral shape from long snouted (longirostrine), through to short snouted (brevirostrine) morphologies. The proportional length of the mandibular symphysis correlates consistently with rostral shape, forming as much as 50% of the mandible’s length in longirostrine forms, but 10% in brevirostrine crocodilians. Here we analyse the structural consequences of an elongate mandibular symphysis in relation to feeding behaviours. Read More
“Olfactory function influences social behavior. For instance, olfaction seems to play a key role in mate choice and helps detecting emotions in other people. In a previous study, we showed that people who were born without a sense of smell exhibit enhanced social insecurity. Based on the comments to this article we decided to have a closer look to whether the absence of the sense of smell affects men and women differently. Read More
“An attentive observer will notice that unintentional synchronization of gait between two walkers on the street seems to occur frequently. Nonetheless, the rate of occurrence and motor-sensory mechanisms underlying this phase-locking of gait have only recently begun to be investigated. Previous studies have either been qualitative or carried out under non-natural conditions, e.g., treadmill walking. The present study quantitatively examined the potential sensory mechanisms that contribute to the gait synchronization that occurs when two people walk side by side along a straight, over-ground, pathway. Read More
“OBJECTIVE: To evaluate physical attractiveness in women with and without endometriosis… A total of 31 of 100 women in the rectovaginal endometriosis group (cases) were judged as attractive or very attractive, compared with 8 of 100 in the peritoneal and ovarian endometriosis group and 9 of 100 in the group of subjects without endometriosis. Read More
“Does information irrelevant to government performance affect voting behavior? If so, how does this help us understand the mechanisms underlying voters’ retrospective assessments of candidates’ performance in office? To precisely test for the effects of irrelevant information, we explore the electoral impact of local college football games just before an election, irrelevant events that government has nothing to do with and for which no government response would be expected. Read More
“How do psychological processes shape how culture evolves? We investigated how a cultural item’s popularity is shaped by the recent popularity of other items with features in common. Specifically, using more than 100 years of first-names data, we examined how a name’s popularity is influenced by the popularity of that name’s component phonemes in other names in the previous year. Building on mere-exposure research, we found that names are more likely to become popular when similar names have been popular recently. These effects are nonlinear, however, and overpopularity hurts adoption. In addition, these effects vary with phoneme position. We demonstrate the causal impact of similarity on cultural success in a natural experiment using hurricane names. Read More