Which sexual fantasies are the most (and least) popular? Science finally weighs in!

By Seriously Science | November 10, 2014 6:00 am
Photo: flickr/grovesa16

Photo: flickr/grovesa16

Sexual fantasies: we all have them, yet many people think they’re in the minority when it comes to their own fantasy of choice. Enter these scientists, who took it upon themselves to catalog the most common sexual fantasies in a population of 1,516 people from Quebec, Canada. Turns out that very few fantasies are truly rare; the rest are primarily ranked as “common”, while a few are so common as to be “typical” (e.g., “receiving oral sex”).  Curious where you rank on the list? See below for the full fantasy tally. 

What Exactly Is an Unusual Sexual Fantasy?

“Introduction
Although several theories and treatment plans use unusual sexual fantasies (SF) as a way to identify deviancy, they seldom describe how the fantasies referred to were determined to be unusual.

Aim
The main goal of this study was to determine which SF are rare, unusual, common, or typical from a statistical point of view among a relatively large sample of adults recruited from the general population. A secondary goal was to provide a statistical comparison of the nature and intensity of sexual fantasies for men and women. This study also aims at demonstrating with both quantitative and qualitative analyses that certain fantasies often considered to be unusual are common.
Read More

Flashback Friday: High Altitude Flatus Expulsion (HAFE).

By Seriously Science | November 7, 2014 6:00 am

This one’s pretty self-explanatory, so we will leave you with this delightful YouTube video!

High Altitude Flatus Expulsion (HAFE).

“We would like to report our observations upon a new gastrointestinal syndrome, which we shall refer to by the acronym HAFE (high altitude flatus expulsion). Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: ha ha poop, old-skool

Killer whales can learn to “speak dolphin”.

By Seriously Science | November 6, 2014 6:00 am
Image: Flickr/Shawn McCready

Image: Flickr/Shawn McCready

Even if you haven’t watched Star Trek IV, you are probably aware of the fact that cetaceans (whales and dolphins) are among the smartest animals on the planet. In fact, this study suggests that, given a chance, different species of cetaceans may be able to learn to communicate with each other. Scientists noticed that killer whales who had spent time with bottlenose dolphins incorporated more clicking and whistles in their vocalizations than other whales, making their “language” a mashup of the two. In fact, one whale was able to learn the sounds taught to a dolphin trained by people! Although we don’t know what these different languages mean, or how much information is being transmitted between the species, it’s clear that these animals are motivated to learn to make each other’s sounds. And who knows, they may be teaming up to contact aliens after all!

Differences in acoustic features of vocalizations produced by killer whales cross-socialized with bottlenose dolphins.

“Limited previous evidence suggests that killer whales (Orcinus orca) are capable of vocal production learning. However, vocal contextual learning has not been studied, nor the factors promoting learning. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: fun with animals, rated G

Apparently, vigorous orgasms can burst a blood vessel in your eye and blind you.

By Seriously Science | November 5, 2014 6:00 am
Image: Flickr/SuperFantastic

Image: Flickr/SuperFantastic

Who doesn’t love a good medical case study involving sex? We certainly do! Here’s one about a patient who became blind in one eye after a vigorous romp in the sack. Apparently he experienced what’s known as a “valsalva manoeuvre” during orgasm–basically, by holding his breath and pushing on his diaphragm (like you do when you’re trying to clear your nose), he drastically increased the blood pressure in his eye. The result? A burst blood vessel and blindness. It turns out that this isn’t uncommon during orgasm–but hey, at least it’s temporary!

Postcoital visual loss due to valsalva retinopathy.

“A 29-year-old male patient presented to eye emergency clinic after noticing a left paracentral scotoma on waking. On direct questioning the patient revealed an episode of vigorous sexual intercourse the preceding evening. Read More

Ever wonder why someone becomes a Republican? Hint: it’s disgusting.

By Seriously Science | November 4, 2014 6:00 am
Image: Flickr/Anne-Lise Heinrichs

Image: Flickr/Anne-Lise Heinrichs

Previous studies have hinted that our political views may stem from unconscious responses we have to intense stimuli, like disgusting pictures. To directly test this hypothesis, these scientists scanned people’s brains while showing them regular or disgusting images (be sure to check out the horrifying list below…if you dare). It turns out that the brain’s response to disgusting images could accurately predict whether a person is liberal or conservative. But, even more surprisingly, the subjects’ voiced opinions about the images did *not* correlate with their ideologies, suggesting that this response is hard-wired and not under our conscious control. Perhaps we are all robots after all…

Nonpolitical Images Evoke Neural Predictors of Political Ideology

“Political ideologies summarize dimensions of life that define how a person organizes their public and private behavior, including their attitudes associated with sex, family, education, and personal autonomy. Despite the abstract nature of such sensibilities, fundamental features of political ideology have been found to be deeply connected to basic biological mechanisms that may serve to defend against environmental challenges like contamination and physical threat. Read More

Polygamous male bustards eat poisonous beetles to rid themselves of STDs.

By Seriously Science | November 3, 2014 6:00 am
Image: Flickr/Biodiversity Heritage Library

Image: Flickr/Biodiversity Heritage Library

No, that’s not a typo. Bustards are birds, and these birds can teach us a thing or two about romance. That’s because male bustards get with a lot of ladies, which can make passing around STDs a real problem. Fortunately, lady bustards are hip to this, and they make sure to examine the male’s cloaca (the awesome “universal hole” of birds and reptiles, out of which comes poop, pee, and eggs!) looking for the telltale signs of infection. If the male looks like he’s got an STD, it’s no go. So, to help keep themselves infection-free, male bustards eat specific kinds of beetles that reduce STDs, even though the bugs are poisonous. And it’s only the males that do this–they will pick the medicinal/poisonous blister beetles out of an array of food choices, while the females will studiously avoid the nasty bugs, suggesting that the males are self-medicating to improve their odds with the ladies. As any worthwhile polygamous male bustard should!

Males of a strongly polygynous species consume more poisonous food than females.

“We present evidence of a possible case of self-medication in a lekking bird, the great bustard Otis tarda. Great bustards consumed blister beetles (Meloidae), in spite of the fact that they contain cantharidin, a highly toxic compound that is lethal in moderate doses. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: eat me, fun with animals

Flashback Friday Halloween Science Roundup: scientific studies to haunt your dreams!

By Seriously Science | October 31, 2014 6:00 am

haunted scrotumOver the years we’ve featured some creepy studies, with topics ranging from ghosts to vampires to haunted scrotums. Here are a few of our favorites, just in time for All Hallows’ Eve. Enjoy!

The case of the haunted scrotum. “On CT scanning of the abdomen and pelvis, the right testis was not identified but the left side of the scrotum seemed to be occupied by a screaming ghost-like apparition (Figure 1). Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Uncategorized

Drinking too much milk could kill you.

By Seriously Science | October 30, 2014 6:00 am
Photo: flickr/mycael

Photo: flickr/mycael

Are you lactose intolerant? If so, it looks like you’ve dodged a bullet: according to this study, high milk consumption (more than one glass a day) is associated with a higher risk of mortality in both men and women. The data come from a large study that took place in Sweden in the ’80s and ’90s. One of the main results is that each daily glass of milk increases risk of death in both men and women and, contrary to popular belief, actually increases the risk of bone fractures in women. The authors caution that these associations could be affected by confounders and reverse causation (e.g., women who were already at a high risk of bone fractures tend to drink more milk). But even so,  I think I’ll stick to my almond milk, just in case. 

Milk intake and risk of mortality and fractures in women and men: cohort studies

“Objective: To examine whether high milk consumption is associated with mortality and fractures in women and men. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: eat me, holy correlation batman!

How many sexual partners does it take to reduce your risk of prostate cancer? (Hint: in this case, less isn’t more!)

By Seriously Science | October 29, 2014 6:00 am
Photo: flickr/dave77459

Photo: flickr/dave77459

The answer: more than 20(!), according to this study of over 3,000 men out of Montreal, Canada — but only if they’re female. (Apparently, having more than 20 male sexual partners is associated with an increased risk of prostate cancer.) Although this is just a correlation, it’s certainly interesting. And if it’s not the number of sexual partners that reduces prostate cancer risk, but something else these ladies men have in common, we definitely want to know what that is!  But, meanwhile, do you know your number? 

Sexual partners, sexually transmitted infections, and prostate cancer risk

“Background: The etiology of prostate cancer (PCa) is poorly understood. Sexual activity and sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are among factors under scrutiny, with controversial findings to date. Read More

Jewel wasps use special sensors on their stingers to inject toxins directly into cockroach brains.

By Seriously Science | October 28, 2014 6:00 am
Image: Wikimedia Commons/Muhammad Mahdi Karim

Image: Wikimedia Commons/Muhammad Mahdi Karim

Not only does this paper have one of the best titles we’ve heard yet, but the scenario it describes is perfect for the next big sci-fi blockbuster. There are many species of wasps that parasitize other insects by injecting them with their larvae, which will grow inside the poor victims until they are large enough to eat their way out. But the parasitoid jewel wasp goes a step further: it first injects the brain of its cockroach prey with toxins that turn the roach into a zombie. In this study, the scientists set out to determine how the jewel wasp is able to identify exactly where in the cockroach to insert its stinger. Turns out that the wasps’ stingers have special neurons that are sensitive to touch (“mechanosensitive”), and these neurons are activated when touching objects with a similar hardness to cockroach heads. Furthermore, the jewel wasps were able to inject cockroaches whose brains were replaced with hard substances but not soft substances, suggesting that the stinger neurons are able to identify cockroach heads by hardness. I don’t know about you, but I’m just glad my research doesn’t involve removing brains from cockroaches.

Sensory arsenal on the stinger of the parasitoid jewel wasp and its possible role in identifying cockroach brains.

“The parasitoid jewel wasp uses cockroaches as live food supply for its developing larva. To this end, the adult wasp stings a cockroach and injects venom directly inside its brain, turning the prey into a submissive ‘zombie’. Here, we characterize the sensory arsenal on the wasp’s stinger that enables the wasp to identify the brain target inside the cockroach’s head. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: fun with animals
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Seriously, Science?

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!
Follow us on Twitter: @srslyscience.
Send us paper suggestions: srslyscience[at]gmail.com.
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