Those who say men are dogs may have it all wrong. Male puppies are particularly chivalrous when playing with female puppies, putting themselves in vulnerable positions just to keep the game going, reports a new study in Animal Behavior [pdf]. The young males may be getting a primer in female behavior, which could translate to higher reproductive success later in life.
Researchers videotaped four litters of puppies from different breeds (shepherd mix, Labrador retriever, Doberman pincher and malamute) at play. Even in puppies only a few weeks old, they found a noticeable gender-split in play etiquette. Female puppies mostly sought out other females as play partners. Male puppies, meanwhile, showed less interest in palling around with other males but were especially eager to initiate play with the girls.
Ig Nobel Prize winners don’t get a photo-op with the King of Sweden, or their own petition for Obama, but their discoveries are worth a good laugh and some serious consideration. Here’s some of the wackiest science honored by this year’s Ig Nobel Prizes. The full list of winners, announced last week by the Annals of Improbable Research (AIR), can be found here.
Biology: Fleas living on dogs jump higher than fleas living on cats. Three French scientists measured fleas jumping out of plastic pipes; the dog fleas outjumped the cat fleas by an average of 2.3 centimeters.
Physics: “String theory” agrees with Murphy’s Law. Two Americans tumbled string in a make-shift clothes dryer and identified all the different knots that came out by their Jones polynomial. They mathematically proved that if you shake up a bunch of loose strings (or hair or shoelaces or headphone cords) they will inevitably get tangled.
Chemistry: Coca-Cola may or may not be bad for your sperm. Three researchers at Harvard Medical School reported that Coke significantly reduces sperm motility and that Diet Coke just about wipes them out. Two years later, Taiwanese researchers reported that Coke has little effect on sperm motility. Both teams shared the prize.