Flashback Friday: Men with beards are more likely to be sexist.

By Seriously Science | November 17, 2017 6:00 am
Image: Flickr/Loren Kerns

Image: Flickr/Loren Kerns

Despite the recent popularity of beards, facial hair can be controversial: as we’ve previously shown, it makes men less likely to get hired and more likely to be seen as guilty by a jury. Well, all you beard-haters out there, here’s some more ammunition for you. In this study, researchers surveyed men from the USA and India on both their facial hair and their attitudes towards women. They found that men with beards were more likely to be sexist, and they hypothesized that men who have sexist attitudes choose to grow beards to make them look more masculine and dominant. Nice try, Santa Claus.

The Association Between Men’s Sexist Attitudes and Facial Hair.

“Facial hair, like many masculine secondary sexual traits, plays a significant role in perceptions of an array of sociosexual traits in men. While there is consensus that beards enhance perceptions of masculinity, age, social dominance, and aggressiveness, the perceived attractiveness of facial hair varies greatly across women. Given the ease with which facial hair can be groomed and removed entirely, why should some men retain beards and others choose to remove them? Read More

Are the oysters listening?

By Seriously Science | November 14, 2017 9:06 am

originalRemember the scene in the original Alice and Wonderland movie when the walrus lures a group of baby oysters out of the water by playing the flute? Obviously, the plausibility of this scene relies heavily on oysters having a sense of hearing – but how realistic is that? These scientists set out to answer this question by playing different frequencies of sounds to Pacific oysters and measuring their valve movements in response. They found that “oysters transiently closed their valves in response to frequencies in the range of 10 to <1000 Hz, with maximum sensitivity from 10 to 200 Hz.” These frequencies are produced by many of the oysters’ natural predators (fish, lobsters) as well as human activity (boats, drilling) and — you guessed it — flutes. Clearly, the walrus knew what he was doing.

The sense of hearing in the Pacific oyster, Magallana gigas

“There is an increasing concern that anthropogenic noise could have a significant impact on the marine environment, but there is still insufficient data for most invertebrates. What do they perceive? We investigated this question in oysters Magallana gigas (Crassostrea gigas) using pure tone exposures, accelerometer fixed on the oyster shell and hydrophone in the water column. Groups of 16 oysters were exposed to quantifiable waterborne sinusoidal sounds in the range of 10 Hz to 20 kHz at various acoustic energies. The experiment was conducted in running seawater using an experimental flume equipped with suspended loudspeakers. The sensitivity of the oysters was measured by recording their valve movements by high-frequency noninvasive valvometry. The tests were 3 min tone exposures including a 70 sec fade-in period. Three endpoints were analysed: the ratio of responding individuals in the group, the resulting changes of valve opening amplitude and the response latency. At high enough acoustic energy, oysters transiently closed their valves in response to frequencies in the range of 10 to <1000 Hz, with maximum sensitivity from 10 to 200 Hz. The minimum acoustic energy required to elicit a response was 0.02 m∙s-2 at 122 dBrms re 1 μPa for frequencies ranging from 10 to 80 Hz. As a partial valve closure cannot be differentiated from a nociceptive response, it is very likely that oysters detect sounds at lower acoustic energy. The mechanism involved in sound detection and the ecological consequences are discussed.”

Related content:
Flashback Friday: Researchers identify mysterious sounds first heard by 1960s submarines.
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Study finds that male fiddler crabs are a**holes.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: fun with animals

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

By Seriously Science | November 10, 2017 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

Think You Know How Ripe You Like Bananas? Think Again

By Seriously Science | November 7, 2017 6:00 am
Image: Flickr/Rick Harris

Image: Flickr/Rick Harris

Do you know what you like? That may sound like a dumb question, but disentangling all the different reasons for loving one thing and hating another can be tricky. Take bananas, for instance. Many people pronounce a clear preference for a certain level of ripeness when it comes to their bananas. But is this preference related to the actual taste of bananas of different ripeness, or is due to other cues, such as the shelf life of the banana? Well, here comes the science! These researchers compared people’s preferences for peeled and unpeeled bananas of varying ripeness — either just turning yellow, or yellow with brown spots. Despite a clear stated preference for non-spotted bananas, if the participant didn’t see the peel, there was no difference in overall liking of the two kinds of bananas. The authors suggest that people think they like less ripe bananas because they last longer. Now THAT’S bananas.

Visually suboptimal bananas: How ripeness affects consumer expectation and perception.

“One reason for the significant amount of food that is wasted in developed countries is that consumers often expect visually suboptimal food as being less palatable. Using bananas as example, the objective of this study was to determine how appearance affects consumer overall liking, the rating of sensory attributes, purchase intention, and the intended use of bananas. Read More


Flashback Friday: Spiders perform female genital mutilation to ensure faithfulness.

By Seriously Science | November 3, 2017 6:00 am
Scott Anderson

Image: Flickr/Scott Anderson

If you think love in the animal world is sweet, think again! From ducks who rape using corkscrew penises to a bedbug who “pierces the female’s abdominal wall with his external genitalia and inseminates into her body cavity” to spiders who self-castrate in order to fight harder, animal sex can be, well, beastly. But this study takes things to a new, and horrible, level. Here, scientists report that male orb-weaving spiders perform genital mutilation on females to ensure they never mate with another male. Yes, you read that right: apparently, spider genitalia interlock during sex, and once the deed is done, the female’s external parts are removed, leaving her sterilized. The researchers go on to predict that this happens in at least 80 other species. Yikes!

Securing Paternity by Mutilating Female Genitalia in Spiders.

“Competition between males and their sperm over access to females and their eggs has resulted in manifold ways by which males try to secure paternity, ranging from physically guarding the female after mating to reducing her receptivity or her attractiveness to subsequent males by transferring manipulative substances or by mechanically sealing the female reproductive tract with a copulatory plug. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: fun with animals

Yes, dogs really can smell fear (and happiness).

By Seriously Science | November 2, 2017 5:24 am
Photo: flickr/liz west

Photo: flickr/liz west

Many people think that animals can smell fear, but it’s hard to differentiate between what an animal smells and what it sees and hears (for example, a screaming human running at full-speed away from it). Fear not! These scientists set out to test whether dogs can actually smell human emotions. To do so, they collected armpit sweat from people who were scared and happy, then exposed dogs to different people while letting the pups smell the sweat. They found that the dogs “displayed more stressful behaviors” when exposed to fear-sweat, and they were more likely to approach strangers when they smelled happy-sweat. Yum!

Interspecies transmission of emotional information via chemosignals: from humans to dogs (Canis lupus familiaris)

“We report a study examining interspecies emotion transfer via body odors (chemosignals). Do human body odors (chemosignals) produced under emotional conditions of happiness and fear provide information that is detectable by pet dogs (Labrador and Golden retrievers)? The odor samples were collected from the axilla of male donors not involved in the main experiment. The experimental setup involved the co-presence of the dog’s owner, a stranger and the odor dispenser in a space where the dogs could move freely. There were three odor conditions [fear, happiness, and control (no sweat)] to which the dogs were assigned randomly. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: fun with animals, smell you later

Did your kid get a pea stuck up his nose? Science to the rescue!

By Seriously Science | October 25, 2017 5:18 pm
Image: Flickr/Jason Rogers

Image: Flickr/Jason Rogers

Image: Flickr/Jason Rogers

Before you go near your kid with a pair of tweezers, read this! Here, researchers combed the literature for examples of successful removal of peas and other objects from kids’ noses using a technique called the “mother’s kiss”. And, as this research shows, it really works! We’ll leave it to the authors to describe this DIY approach:

The mother’s kiss was first described in 1965 by Vladimir Ctibor, a general practitioner from New Jersey. The mother, or other trusted adult, places her mouth over the child’s open mouth, forming a firm seal as if about to perform mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. While occluding the unaffected nostril with a finger, the adult then blows until they feel the resistance caused by closure of the child’s glottis, at which point the adult gives a sharp exhalation to deliver a short puff of air into the child’s mouth. This puff of air passes through the nasopharynx, out through the unoccluded nostril and, if successful, results in the expulsion of the foreign body. The procedure is fully explained to the adult before starting, and the child is told that the parent will give him or her a “big kiss” so that minimal distress is caused to the child. The procedure can be repeated a number of times if not initially successful.

This sure sounds better than trying to suck out from the other end (meaning the nose).

Efficacy and safety of the “mother’s kiss” technique: a systematic review of case reports and case series.

“Background: Foreign bodies lodged in the nasal cavity are a common problem in children, and their removal can be challenging. The published studies relating to the “mother’s kiss” all take the form of case reports and case series. We sought to assess the efficacy and safety of this technique. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: diy medicine, smell you later

Flashback Friday: Scientists identify the top 10 relationship deal-breakers.

By Seriously Science | October 20, 2017 6:00 am
Photo: flickr/K. Kendall

Photo: flickr/K. Kendall

Finally, an expression popularized by the TV show 30 Rock has made it into the scientific literature. In this study, the scientists used surveys to identify and rank the top 10 relationship deal-breakers for both short-term and long-term relationships. The table is reproduced below, and you’ll note some interesting patterns–for example, “is bad in bed” and “smells bad” are only deal-breakers for short-term relationships. People also tended to weigh deal-breakers more heavily than “deal-makers” (e.g., “is intelligent” or “has a good sense of humor”).  In the spirit of continuing this important research, please share your own deal-breakers in the comments below!

Relationship Dealbreakers: Traits People Avoid in Potential Mates

“Mate preference research has focused on traits people desire in partners (i.e., deal-makers) rather than what traits they avoid (i.e., deal-breakers), but mate preferences calibrate to both maximize benefits and minimize costs. Across six studies (N > 6,500), we identified and examined relationship deal-breakers, and how they function across relationship contexts. Read More


Scientist finally figures out why holes feel larger with your tongue than with your finger.

By Seriously Science | October 18, 2017 6:00 am
Photo: flickr/Nikita Kravchuk

Photo: flickr/Nikita Kravchuk

For almost 30 years, scientists have known about the illusion that makes small holes seem larger when felt with the tongue rather than with the fingers (we don’t know who first discovered this, but we assume it was X-rated). Since that time, the reason for this illusion remained mysterious… until now! This scientist used a series of experiments involving, tongues, fingers, and even toes to explore the phenomenon. He found that it’s the “pliability” of the appendage used to probe the hole in question that determines how big the hole seems: the highly pliable tongue is more accurate and perceives larger sizes than the less pliable finger or toe. That is definitely not a double entendre!

The Extent of Skin Bending Rather Than Action Possibilities Explains Why Holes Feel Larger With the Tongue Than With the Finger.

“When small holes are felt with the tongue, they are perceived to be larger compared with when felt with the index finger. This oral illusion has not yet been consistently explained. From present action-specific accounts of perception, we derived a high-level sticking-action hypothesis to explain the oral illusion. Read More


Flashback Friday: An Autopsy of Chicken Nuggets

By Seriously Science | October 13, 2017 6:00 am
Photo: flickr/PetroleumJelliffe

Photo: flickr/PetroleumJelliffe

Ever wondered what fast food chicken nuggets are actually made of? So did these researchers, and they actually went so far as to examine formalin-fixed sections of nugget under a microscope. If you enjoy eating these junk food favorites, we suggest you stop reading here. But if you really want to know the results, read on…

The Autopsy of Chicken Nuggets Reads “Chicken Little”

“PURPOSE: To determine the contents of chicken nuggets from 2 national food chains. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: eat me, fun with animals, Top Posts

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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