Friday Flashback: A scientific use for… used tampons?!?

By Seriously Science | November 15, 2013 7:00 am

Photo: flickr/jurvetson

This has got to be one of the most gnarly Materials and Methods sections ever published. In this study, the scientists were investigating whether brown tree snakes would strike at objects soaked in human blood. A reasonable question, really. But where to get such targets? Why, used tampons, of course!

Response 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 andswallowed a second soiled tampon.”


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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.


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Seriously, Science?, formerly known as NCBI ROFL, is the brainchild of two prone-to-distraction biologists. We highlight the funniest, oddest, and just plain craziest research from the PubMed research database and beyond. Because nobody said serious science couldn't be silly!
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