And the fluffiest-tail-in-the-world award goes to…

By Seriously Science | September 10, 2015 6:00 am
Image: HOSCAP/Borneo

Image: HOSCAP/Borneo

…this cute little guy, also known as the Tufted Ground Squirrel, or Rheithrosciurus macrotis to his friends. In his free time, he enjoys having a tail volume of 130% relative to his body volume (for comparison, skunks are at 35% and possums are at 100%), making it “one of the most voluminous tails among all mammals
relative to body size.” Scientists think he may use his huge tail for self-defense and to confuse predators during pursuits. But best of all, locals in Borneo (where his species is found) believe this “vampire squirrel” is capable of killing deer, disemboweling them, and drinking their blood. What a cutie!

Tall Tales of a Tropical Squirrel

“The Tufted Ground Squirrel, Rheithrosciurus macrotis is an endemic of the South East Asian island of Borneo. This species is remarkable in several aspects. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: fun with animals, rated G

Scientists are actually studying Ryan Gosling memes.

By Seriously Science | September 8, 2015 6:00 am

127469594MT038_The_Ides_Of_Hey girl. You’ve probably seen those Ryan Gosling memes floating around the interwebs–you know, the ones where he says all the things girls like to hear. Well, these scientists set out to see if memes can garner more than just a laugh, and investigated whether they could actually change people’s views on important subjects. To do so, they showed groups of men and women a variety of Ryan Gosling feminist memes, and then tested whether the memes had any effect on the participants’ feminist beliefs. Surprisingly, although the men didn’t rate themselves any more feminist after seeing the memes, they did display “significantly higher endorsement of subtypes of feminism (radical and social).” The results were presented at the 2014 Canadian Psychological Association annual conference (abstract below). We assume these scientists are already hard at work on their follow-up study focused on how magnets work.

The Effect of Ryan Gosling Feminist Memes on Feminist Identification and Endorsement of Feminist Beliefs

“This study examined the impact of Ryan Gosling feminist memes on feminist identification and endorsement of feminist beliefs. Participants were asked to complete a one-item measure of feminist identification and then complete an adapted version of the Feminist Perspectives Scale (FPS) which measured endorsement of feminist beliefs. Contrary to our hypothesis, the experimental meme group did not display a greater level of feminist self-identification than the control group. In partial support of our hypothesis, the meme group displayed significantly higher endorsement of subtypes of feminism (radical and social). Read More


Flashback Friday: Facial hair scientifically proven sexy.

By Seriously Science | September 4, 2015 6:00 am

Hipsters aside, most of the straight women I’ve talked to have stated a strong preference for clean-shaven men, which makes the research presented in this paper a bit of surprise. When shown pictures of the same men with differing facial hair lengths, men and women expressed a preference for full beards and heavy stubble, respectively. But pictures are one thing, and beard burn is another. We demand a followup study that requires the participants to actually kiss those hairy faces!

The role of facial hair in women’s perceptions of men’s attractiveness, health, masculinity and parenting abilities.

“Facial hair strongly influences people’s judgments of men’s socio-sexual attributes. However, the nature of these judgments is often contradictory. The levels of intermediate facial hair growth presented to raters and the stage of female raters’ menstrual cycles might have influenced past findings. We quantified men’s and women’s judgments of attractiveness, health, masculinity and parenting abilities for photographs of men who were clean-shaven, lightly or heavily stubbled and fully bearded. We also tested the effect of the menstrual cycle and hormonal contraceptive use on women’s ratings. Women judged faces with heavy stubble as most attractive and heavy beards, light stubble and clean-shaven faces as similarly less attractive. Read More

Gorillas, like people, have individual tastes in music.

By Seriously Science | September 2, 2015 6:00 am
Image: Flickr/Tambako The Jaguar

Image: Flickr/Tambako The Jaguar

Problem: you have a bunch of gorillas coming over for a party and you have no idea what music they like. Solution: apparently there is none. That’s because, at least according to this study, gorillas have individual responses to different kinds of music. Here, researchers observed three gorillas (Koga, Sydney, and Lily) listening to rainforest sounds (natural), Chopin (classical), or Muse (rock). Although all the gorillas changed behaviors when listening to the rainforest sounds, Koga oriented toward the speakers playing Muse 40% of the time, while Sydney did it 10%, and Lily never did (graph below). Maybe next time they should try Gorillaz.

The effects of auditory enrichment on gorillas.

“Several studies have demonstrated that auditory enrichment can reduce stereotypic behaviors in captive animals. The purpose of this study was to determine the relative effectiveness of three different types of auditory enrichment-naturalistic sounds, classical music, and rock music-in reducing stereotypic behavior displayed by Western lowland gorillas (Gorilla gorilla gorilla). Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: fun with animals, rated G

Strong-stomached scientists develop a (hilarious) hand-pumped artificial vomiting machine.

By Seriously Science | August 31, 2015 6:00 am
Fig 2. Photo of a Simulated Vomiting Episode. Projectile vomiting of colored simulated vomitus matrix.

Fig 2. Photo of a Simulated Vomiting Episode.
Projectile vomiting of colored simulated vomitus matrix.

When a friend has a stomach bug and you hold her hair back while she blows chunks, are you at risk for inhaling aerosolized virus? Well, that’s exactly what these scientists wondered. But who wants to spend months hanging out at the hospital in the hopes that someone with a stomach bug walks in and lets you measure how many viral particles get aerosolized when they puke? Let’s just go ahead and say (or hope) no one. So, to answer the question, these scientists built a vomit machine–that even included a face–to replicate what happens to the chunks that get blown when we hurl. But what to put in the vomit machine? Why, artificial vomit of course! (And virus. Don’t forget the virus.) Finally, to measure the amount of aerosolized virus, they collected air samples from a plexiglass box that surrounded the “face” of the vomit machine. The result of these shenanigans? Well, lets just say the harder they puke, the worse your chances are.

Aerosolization of a Human Norovirus Surrogate, Bacteriophage MS2, during Simulated Vomiting.

“Human noroviruses (NoV) are the leading cause of acute gastroenteritis worldwide. Epidemiological studies of outbreaks have suggested that vomiting facilitates transmission of human NoV, but there have been no laboratory-based studies characterizing the degree of NoV release during a vomiting event. The purpose of this work was to demonstrate that virus aerosolization occurs in a simulated vomiting event Read More

Flashback Friday: Sexually aroused by farts? You’re not alone.

By Seriously Science | August 28, 2015 1:49 pm

Photo: flickr/wackyvorion

The saying goes “to each his own,” and that definitely holds true for fetishes. This paper describes a person with “eproctophilia”, which is the term for when someone is sexually aroused by flatulence. The first half of the article is included below. Warning–it’s a bit of a wild ride!

Eproctophilia in a Young Adult Male

“Olfactophilia (also known as osmolagnia, osphresiolagnia, and ozolagnia) is a paraphilia where an individual derives sexual pleasure from smells and odors (Aggrawal, 2009). Given the large body of research on olfaction, it is not surprising that, in some cases, there should be an association with sexual behavior. As Bieber (1959) noted, smell is a powerful sexual stimulus. Furthermore, the erotic focus is most likely to relate to body odors of a sexual partner, including genital odors.
One subtype of olfactophilia is eproctophilia. This is a paraphilia in which people are sexually aroused by flatulence (Aggrawal, 2009). Therefore, eproctophiles are said to spend an abnormal amount of time thinking about farting and flatulence and have recurring intense sexual urges and fantasies involving farting and flatulence (Griffiths, 2012a). To date, there has been no academic or clinical research into eproctophilia. Therefore, the following account presents a brief case study of an eproctophile and given a pseudonym (Brad). Brad gave full consent for his case to be written up on the understanding that he could not be identified and that he was guaranteed full anonymity and confidentiality. Read More

Too much eye contact can actually cause hallucinations.

By Seriously Science | August 25, 2015 6:00 am
Photo: flickr/Tambako the Jaguar

Photo: flickr/Tambako the Jaguar

If you think gazing into someone else’s eyes for a long time becomes uncomfortable rather quickly, imagine if you were a subject in this study, and were asked to stare into a stranger’s eyes for ten whole minutes. Turns out that it’s a lot more than just awkward. They actually started to experience hallucinations, likely brought on by “a dissociative state induced by sensory deprivation.” So there you have it: look deeeeep into my eyes… at your own risk!

Dissociation and hallucinations in dyads engaged through interpersonal gazing.

“Interpersonal gazing in dyads, when the two individuals in the dyad stare at each other in the eyes, is investigated in 20 healthy young individuals at low illumination for 10-min. Results indicate dissociative symptoms, dysmorphic face perceptions, and hallucination-like strange-face apparitions. Dissociative symptoms and face dysmorphia were correlated. Strange-face apparitions were non-correlated with dissociation and dysmorphia. These results indicate that dissociative symptoms and hallucinatory phenomena during interpersonal-gazing under low illumination can involve different processes. Read More


We are so obsessed with gender, we even assign it to numbers.

By Seriously Science | August 19, 2015 12:19 pm
Photo: flickr/Derrick Tyson

Photo: flickr/Derrick Tyson

Unlike many other languages, most English words are not innately gendered. But apparently things aren’t so simple when it comes to numbers. The authors of this study have spent several years studying whether people perceive numbers as having genders, and whether this perception differs between men and women. Here, they asked college students to rate the masculinity and femininity of different numbers shown on a computer. They found that odd numbers tended to be perceived as male (as well as having the characteristics of being “independent and strong”), while even numbers were perceived as female (and “friendly and soft”). Interestingly, zero was classified as neither male nor female, and women tended to see numbers as more gendered than men. Sorry, lady in the photo — time to put the 9 down. That number is not for you!

The numerology of gender: gendered perceptions of even and odd numbers

“Do numbers have gender? Wilkie and Bodenhausen (2012) examined this issue in a series of experiments on perceived gender. They examined the perceived gender of baby faces and foreign names. Arbitrary numbers presented with these faces and names influenced their perceived gender. Specifically, odd numbers connoted masculinity, while even numbers connoted femininity. In two new studies (total N = 315), we further examined the gendering of numbers. The first study examined explicit ratings of 1-digit numbers. We confirmed that odd numbers seemed masculine while even numbers seemed feminine. Although both men and women showed this pattern, it was more pronounced among women. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: reinforcing stereotypes

Study shows that internet search engines have the power to swing elections.

By Seriously Science | August 12, 2015 11:20 am
Image: Flickr/MoneyBlogNewz

Image: Flickr/MoneyBlogNewz

As a society, we are happily ensconced in the internet era. And we’re sure that you, oh wonderful blog readers, are among the first to use the internet to find information about candidates come election time. And by and large, we assume the internet search engines we use to find that information are unbiased. But what if they aren’t? Could the order of search results skew our perceptions of possible candidates? Well, this paper explores that very scenario. The result? Let’s just say that we’re happy that Google’s motto is “don’t be evil.”

The search engine manipulation effect (SEME) and its possible impact on the outcomes of elections.

“Internet search rankings have a significant impact on consumer choices, mainly because users trust and choose higher-ranked results more than lower-ranked results. Given the apparent power of search rankings, we asked whether they could be manipulated to alter the preferences of undecided voters in democratic elections. Read More

Flashback Friday: Who needs sunscreen when you have chocolate?

By Seriously Science | August 7, 2015 3:00 pm

Photo: flickr/Charles Haynes

Tired of slathering on sunscreen every time you want to spend some time outside? Try eating chocolate instead! Chocolate naturally contains very high levels of antioxidants (flavanols), but these are mostly lost during conventional chocolate processing. In this study, the researchers tested whether simply eating high-flavonol chocolate could help protect people’s skin from the effects of the sun (measured here by “minimal erythema dose” [MED], or the amount of UV exposure needed to produce a sunburn). Surprisingly, after the subjects ate 20 g of high-flavanol chocolate daily for 12 weeks, their MEDs doubled compared to a control group who ate conventional low-flavanol chocolates. So go ahead, bring your chocolate to the beach … but maybe think twice about the bikini?

Eating chocolate can significantly protect the skin from UV light.

Cocoa beans fresh from the tree are exceptionally rich in flavanols. Unfortunately, during conventional chocolate making, this high antioxidant capacity is greatly reduced due to manufacturing processes.
To evaluate the photoprotective potential of chocolate consumption, comparing a conventional dark chocolate to a specially produced chocolate with preserved high flavanol (HF) levels.
A double-blind in vivo study in 30 healthy subjects was conducted. Fifteen subjects each were randomly assigned to either a HF or low flavanol (LF) chocolate group and consumed a 20 g portion of their allocated chocolate daily. The minimal erythema dose (MED) was assessed at baseline and after 12 weeks under standardized conditions. Read More

CATEGORIZED UNDER: diy medicine, eat me

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]

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