Archive for 'Boys Will Be Boys'

Unusual Behavior: Females breastfeeding adult males

Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

From time to time, unusual animal behavior comes to the attention of the science community. Now comes this study:

Unusual Behaviour in Grey Woolly Monkeys (Lagothrix cana): Females Breastfeeding Adult Males,” Bárbara Cartagena-Matos, Hilton Ferreira Japyassú, Mariana Cravo-Mota, and Bruna Martins Bezerra, Mammalian Biology-Zeitschrift für Säugetierkunde, vol. 80, no. 1 (2015): 59-62. (Thanks to Ig Nobel Prize winner Pascal Malkemper for bringing this to our attention.) The authors, at Campus Universitário de Santiago, Portugal, Federal University of Pernambuco, Brazil, and the University of Bristol, UK, report:

“Breastfeeding between adult individuals has been reported in humans in the context of erotic lactation (e.g. Barlett 2005) and there is evidence of some whales suckling sporadically for as long as 13 years (Klinowska 1991). Here we provide observations of breastfeeding between adults in a group of grey woolly monkeys, Lagothrix cana.”

Here’s further detail from the study:

feeding study

Why do we pick our nose?

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2015

andrade1Why do we pick our nose?

The BBC looks into the question. The biggest thing it finds is Dr. Chittaranjan Andrade‘s study that won the 2001 Ig Nobel Prize for public health.

Here, at right, is a photo of Dr. Andrade.

And here, below, is detail from Dr. Andrade’s study:


A rock, a paper, a scissors, a bunch of lizards

Friday, January 30th, 2015

Hannah Fry, in this Numberphile video, tots up the cases of rock-paper-scissors mathematics as applied to lizards:

This goes back, more or less, to a sex study published in the year 2000:

Polygyny, mate-guarding, and posthumous fertilization as alternative male mating strategies,” Kelly R. Zamudio and Barry SinervoPNAS, 2000 97 (26) 14427-14432.

Here’s a photo of rock-paper-scissors/lizards researcher Kelly Zamudio, of Cornell University, sitting on a pile of sand with a colleague:


“Gay bomb” research facility urges caution about “love hormone”

Sunday, January 25th, 2015

oxytocinThe laboratory facility that long ago won honors for doing research and development on the so-called “gay bomb” is casting a skeptical eye at widespread claims about oxytocin, a substance some people call “the love hormone”.

The Neuroskeptic blog reports:

A new study offers two reasons to be cautious about some of the claims made for the role of the hormone oxytocin in human behavior.

The paper’s out now in PLoS ONE from researchers James C. Christensen and colleagues, who are based at the US Air Force Research Laboratory in Ohio. That the military are interested in oxytocin at all is perhaps a testament to the huge amount of interest that this molecule has attracted in recent years. Oxytocin has been called the “hug hormone”, and is said to be involved in such nice things as love and trust. But according to Christensen et al., quite a lot of previous oxytocin research may be flawed.

The 2007 Ig Nobel peace prize was awarded to the Air Force Wright Laboratory, Dayton, Ohio, USA, for instigating research & development on a chemical weapon — the so-called “gay bomb” — that will make enemy soldiers become sexually irresistible to each other.

REFERENCE: “Harassing, Annoying, and ‘Bad Guy’ Identifying Chemicals,” Wright Laboratory, WL/FIVR, Wright Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, June 1, 1994.

BONUS: James C. Christensen [pictured below] also is part of a team that says: “We did something that has never been done before. Modifying a car—a 2014 Corvette C7 Stingray—so a qualified quadriplegic driver can safely operate it under racetrack conditions. We call it SAM. A semi-autonomous motorcar.”


The Self-Acupressure-to-Overcome-Constipation Experiment

Thursday, January 22nd, 2015

There is (people say) more than one way to skin a cat. So too are there multiple ways to overcome constipation. Here’s a newly documented way:

Effect of Perineal Self-Acupressure on Constipation: A Randomized Controlled Trial,” Ryan Abbott, Ian Ayres [pictured below], Ed Hui, and Ka-Kit Hui, Journal of General Internal Medicine, 2014, pp. 1-6. (Thanks to investigator Toby Sommer for bringing this to our attention. The authors, at the University of California, Los Angeles and at Southwestern Law School, Los Angeles, report :

“We aimed to evaluate whether perineal self-acupressure would improve patient reports of quality of life and bowel function at 4 weeks after training…. Among patients with constipation, perineal self-acupressure improves self-reported assessments of quality of life, bowel function, and health and well-being relative to providing standard constipation treatment options alone.”

Here’s further detail from the study:


Here’s an appreciative writeup in the Yale Alumni Magazine:

A law professor’s theory about relieving constipation is put to the test