NCBI ROFL: Dung beetles use Uranus for orientation.

By ncbi rofl | April 2, 2013 12:00 pm

OK, fine. It’s actually the Milky Way (we couldn’t help ourselves). But really, either way, it’s pretty amazing that dung beetles use stars to pilot their way out of a pile of poop. And besides, any study that involves putting dung beetles in a planetarium is a winner in our books.

Dung beetles use the milky way for orientation.

“When the moon is absent from the night sky, stars remain as celestial visual cues. Nonetheless, only birds, seals, and humans are known to use stars for orientation. African ball-rolling dung beetles exploit the sun, the moon, and the celestial polarization pattern to move along straight paths, away from the intense competition at the dung pile. Read More

NCBI ROFL: Study proves masturbation leads to weight loss.

By ncbi rofl | April 1, 2013 10:00 am

Photo: flickr/krossbow

Daily masturbatory activity associated with long-term weight reduction.

“Obesity is a growing cause of mortality worldwide. High cortisol levels are associated with weight gain, and previous studies indicate that sexual activity induces hormonal responses that can reduce cortisol levels in healthy adults. Furthermore, pleasurable activities, such as orgasm, have been proven to reduce caloric intake. Here, we test the hypothesis that masturbation, or firsthand autonomous pleasure (FAP), when performed on a daily basis, can directly lead to weight loss. Read More >>

CATEGORIZED UNDER: how is babby formed?, NCBI ROFL

NCBI ROFL: Rectal foreign bodies: eggplant edition.

By ncbi rofl | March 29, 2013 12:00 pm

ER doctors have to deal with some crazy stuff, perhaps the funniest of which involves people with various objects stuck up their butts. From salami and oven mitts to “plastic or glass bottles, cucumbers, carrots, wooden, or rubber objects…bulb, tube light, axe handle, broomstick, vibrators, dildos, a turkey buster[sic], utensils, [and] Christmas ornaments,” the list is long and varied. However, we think “eggplant” ranks close to the top, if only for its sheer audacity. 

Management of rectal foreign bodies.

“Entrapped anorectal foreign bodies are being encountered more frequently in clinical practice. Although entrapped foreign bodies are most often related to sexual behavior, they can also result from ingestion or sexual assault.
METHODS:
Between 1999 and 2009, 15 patients with foreign bodies in the rectum were diagnosed and treated, at Izmir Training and Research Hospital, in Izmir. Information regarding the foreign body, clinical presentation, treatment strategies, and outcomes were documented. We retrospectively reviewed the medical records of these unusual patients. Read More

NCBI ROFL: What makes a cute baby cute?

By ncbi rofl | March 28, 2013 12:00 pm

While perusing your Facebook news feed, have you ever wondered why some people’s babies are adorable, while others are butt ugly? To find out why, these scientists digitally manipulated baby photos to determine what features influence baby cuteness. Turns out that round faces and high foreheads are key for cuteness, and the cuter the baby, the more willing people are to take care of it. Fortunately for those ugly babies, they are not necessarily doomed to become ugly adults.

Baby Schema in Infant Faces Induces Cuteness Perception and Motivation for Caretaking in Adults.

“Ethologist Konrad Lorenz proposed that baby schema (‘Kindchenschema’) is a set of infantile physical features such as the large head, round face and big eyes that is perceived as cute and motivates caretaking behavior in other individuals, with the evolutionary function of enhancing offspring survival. Previous work on this fundamental concept was restricted to schematic baby representations or correlative approaches. Here, we experimentally tested the effects of baby schema on the perception of cuteness and the motivation for caretaking using photographs of infant faces. Read More

NCBI ROFL: Science: taking the magic out of children’s laughter since 1993.

By ncbi rofl | March 27, 2013 12:00 pm

Ah, a child’s laughter. You might describe it as magical (or, depending on your mood, kind of annoying). But that’s not quantitative enough! Enter these researchers, who took it upon themselves to finally bring some rigor to the study of children’s laughter. They even classified it into four major types: “exclamatory and dull comment; chuckle; basic, variable, and classical rhythmical; and squeal.” About time.

Vocal affect in three‐year‐olds: A quantitative acoustic analysis of child laughter

“Recordings were obtained of the laughter vocalizations of four 3-year-old children during three sessions of spontaneous free-play between mother and child in a laboratory playroom. Acoustic analysis was used to determine laughter durations, laughter events, F0, and harmonic characteristics, and to suggest a taxonomy of laughter types. Melodic contours were assessed from patterns of F0 change during laughter. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: NCBI ROFL, rated G

NCBI ROFL: Classifying dogs’ facial expressions from photographs.

By ncbi rofl | March 26, 2013 12:00 pm

If IHasAHotdog is any indication, dogs display a variety of facial expressions. However, surveys of LOLanimals aren’t necessarily scientific (though they can be), so these researchers took a more controlled approach by testing whether people can recognize different facial expressions on the same dog’s face. How did they get the dog to make different expressions? Read on for a few of their LOL-worthy methods…

Classifying dogs’ (Canis familiaris) facial expressions from photographs

“Humans accurately read other humans’ emotional facial expressions. Little research was found examining human ability to read dogs’ expressions. Cross-species research extended facial expression research to chimpanzees, and there is much research on dogs’ auditory signaling to humans. To explore humans’ ability to identify dogs’ facial displays, photographs of a dog’s face were taken under behaviorally defined conditions expected to elicit specific emotions. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: fun with animals, NCBI ROFL

NCBI ROFL: Get ready for the fog water collection-off! Round 1: animal vs. plant!

By ncbi rofl | March 25, 2013 12:00 pm

For one manuscript only, plants and animals square off! In one corner, we have Onymacris unguicularis, the fog-basking beetle. In the other corner is Stipagrostris sabulicola, the dune bushman grass. Watch them fight to survive the extreme desert environment, where water’s scarce and fog is a hot commodity. Whose fog-collecting strategy will put them on top, and who will go home in shame?

Animal or plant: which is the better fog water collector?

“Occasional fog is a critical water source utilised by plants and animals in the Namib Desert. Fog basking beetles (Onymacris unguicularis, Tenebrionidae) and Namib dune bushman grass (Stipagrostris sabulicola, Poaceae) collect water directly from the fog. While the beetles position themselves optimally for fog water collection on dune ridges, the grass occurs predominantly at the dune base where less fog water is available. Differences in the fog-water collecting abilities in animals and plants have never been addressed. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: fun with animals, NCBI ROFL

NCBI ROFL: Zip-related genital injury.

By ncbi rofl | March 22, 2013 12:00 pm

I know you’re dying to know: how common is it to get your junk stuck in a zipper? Does it really only happen to men, or are women affected by this calamity as well? Apparently, it’s horrifyingly more common than you might think; fortunately, there are several ways to get it unstuck.

Zip-related genital injury.

“OBJECTIVE:To describe the epidemiology of genital injuries caused by trouser zips and to educate both consumers and the caregivers of patients who sustain such injuries. Read More

NCBI ROFL: The wonders of koala poop revealed!

By ncbi rofl | March 21, 2013 12:00 pm

A lot of great things can come out of finding new ways to degrade stuff. Like reducing the number of plastic bags in our landfills, or producing fuels from plant matter. Nature has evolved many enzymes that do these sorts of things very efficiently–the trick is figuring out how to find the organisms that make them. These scientists decided to look in koala poop! Although it might seem like a smelly choice, it makes sense that there might be organisms in koala poop that eat the “leftover” fiber from all that eucalyptus. Om nom nom nom!

Fungi from koala (Phascolarctos cinereus) faeces exhibit a broad range of enzyme activities against recalcitrant substrates.

“AIMS: Identification of fungi isolated from koala faeces and screening for their enzyme activities of biotechnological interest. Read More

NCBI ROFL: Where has all the road kill gone?

By ncbi rofl | March 20, 2013 3:00 pm

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

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