Archive for 'Boys Will Be Boys'

STILL MORE INFO: Dead Duck Day, June 5th, honoring homosexual necrophilia in the mallard

Friday, June 1st, 2018

Tuesday, June 5th, 2018 is the 23rd edition of Dead Duck Day, arriving precisely one year after last year’s Dead Duck Day. At exactly 17:55 h [Rotterdam time] we will honor the mallard duck that became known to science as the first (documented) ‘victim’ of homosexual necrophilia in that species, and earned its discoverer the 2003 Ig Nobel Biology Prize.

We presented some info about this yesterday. Here are further details.

Dead Duck Day also commemorates the billions of other birds that die from colliding with glass buildings, and challenges people to find solutions to this global problem.

Please join the free, short open-air ceremony next to the new wing of the Natural History Museum Rotterdam (the Netherlands), right below the new Dead Duck Memorial Plaque — the very spot where that duck (now museum specimen NMR 9989-00232) met his dramatic end.

This is what will happen:

  • The traditional Ten Seconds of Silence.
  • Review of this year’s necrophilia news, with (1) applause for Harshil Patel, Pranav Vaghashiya, and Shantilal K. Tank for publishing their paper ‘Necrophiliac Behavior in the Common Asian Toad, Duttaphrynus melanostictus (Schneider 1799) in Western India‘ and (2) the first public appearance of dead duck specimen NMR 9989-05220 a new victim of heterosexual necrophilia in the mallard.
  • The official announcement of ‘Der Entenmann‘ – the long-awaited German edition of ‘De eendenman‘ [The Duck Guy].
  • The reading of the special ‘Dead Duck Day Message’. This years message, a dead duck story, send in by Eva Menasse, author of amongst others the novel ‘Tiere für Fortgeschrittene‘ [Animals for the Advanced] will be read by Kim Zieschang.
  • Presentation of an addition to the Dead Duck Day Fashion Line, designed by Mark Prinsen.
  • A six-course duck dinner, after the ceremony. The traditional six-course (dead) duck dinner at the famous Tai Wu Restaurant is also open to the public (at your own expense). Reserve your seat by e-mailing to: info [at]

UPDATE (June 9, 2018): A few days after Dead Duck Day, the museum director had a fluid dynamics adventure with the police, in connection with a nature television shoot.

A look back at the Penises of the Animal Kingdom poster

Thursday, May 31st, 2018

Colin Dickey, writing in Topic magazine, explores the history of the Ig Nobel Prize-winning poster “Penises of the Animal Kingdom” and its creator, Jim Knowlton. Dickey’s report bears the headline “The Penis Poster That Rubbed People the Wrong Way“:

“… Knowlton had been a graduate student at Columbia University, working on a PhD in particle physics, when he first concocted the idea for the poster. A colleague’s comment about how snakes have two penises, he later recalled, got him “thinking about penis trivia,” which soon “moved into the further realm of comparing.” He was 24 years old when he began selling the poster in 1985; after he completed his master’s, his academic funding was cut off. He moved out to Indiana, he later told a reporter, to continue selling his poster and start a rock band. The poster business was a one-man operation, and by then, Knowlton estimated, he was selling about 5,000 copies a year.

“In 1992, the poster’s notoriety earned it an Ig Nobel Prize—a set of parodic counterparts to the Nobel Prizes that are awarded each year by Marc Abrahams, editor of the science-humor magazine the Annals of Improbable Research. “The prizes are not intended to say that anything is bad or good,” Abrahams says. Instead, the sole criterion is: “Does it make people laugh and then think?” Few laureates have made work that has fit these criteria as well as Knowlton’s poster does….”

Penis morphology in a Burmese harvestman

Saturday, May 26th, 2018

Today’s item in our Shape-Of-Things-to-Come series gets a detailed look in this research study:

Penis morphology in a Burmese amber harvestman,” Jason A. DunlopPaul A. Selden, and Gonzalo GiribetThe Science of Nature, vol. 103, no. 11, February 2016. The authors, at Leibniz Institute for Evolution and Biodiversity Science, the University of Kansas, the Natural History Museum [London, UK], and Harvard University, report:

A unique specimen of the fossil harvestman Halitherses grimaldii (Arachnida: Opiliones) from the Cretaceous (ca. 99 Ma) Burmese amber of Myanmar reveals a fully extended penis. This is the first record of a male copulatory organ of this nature preserved in amber and is of special importance due to the age of the deposit. The penis has a slender, distally flattened truncus, a spatulate heart-shaped glans and a short distal stylus, twisted at the tip. In living harvestmen, the penis yields crucial characters for their systematics. Male genital morphology in H. grimaldii appears to be unique among the wider Dyspnoi clade to which this fossil belongs. The large eyes in the fossil differ markedly from other members of the subfamily Ortholasmatinae to which H. grimaldii was originally referred….

[The] unique structure of the penis seen here, and the probable lack of diaphanous teeth, present in all other extant non-acropsopilionid Dyspnoi, suggest that H. grimaldii represents a new, extinct family of large-eyed dyspnoid harvestmen, Halithersidae fam. nov.; a higher taxon in amber diagnosed here on both somatic and genital characters.

(Thanks to Tom Gill for bringing this to our attention.)

Portrait of a Self-Recognized Genius: Jordan B. Peterson

Friday, May 18th, 2018

Jordan B. Peterson, one of the world’s great self-recognized geniuses, gets a warm appreciation in The New York Times. Nellie Bowles writes:

Mr. Peterson, 55, a University of Toronto psychology professor turned YouTube philosopher turned mystical father figure, has emerged as an influential thought leader….

[He says some people want] to eliminate hierarchies, which he says are the natural order of the world. In his book he illustrates this idea with the social behavior of lobsters. He chose lobsters because they have hierarchies and are a very ancient species, and are also invertebrates with serotonin. This lobster hierarchy has become a rallying cry for his fans; they put images of the crustacean on T-shirts and mugs.

Professor Peterson boiled down his thoughts about lobsters. The boiled mass is served up in Professor Peterson’s paper called “The Functional Neuroanatomy and Psychopharmacology of Predatory and Defensive Aggression.”

BONUS (possibly unrelated): The 2016 Ig Nobel Prize for psychology was awarded to Gordon PennycookJames Allan CheyneNathaniel BarrDerek Koehler, and Jonathan Fugelsang for their scholarly study called “On the Reception and Detection of Pseudo-Profound Bullshit” [published in the journal Judgment and Decision Making, vol. 10, no. 6, November 2015, pp. 549–563].

The Straight Poop: Sociology of Canadian Donut Shops, Ongoing

Thursday, May 17th, 2018

The sociology of Canadian donut shops plays out afresh, as described in a New York Post report headlined “Lady poops on restaurant floor, flings it at cashier.” That report includes action video.

The 1999 Ig Nobel Prize for sociology was awarded to Steve Penfold, of York University in Toronto, for doing his PhD thesis on the sociology of Canadian donut shops. Penfold’s dissertation is: “The social life of donuts: Commodity and community in postwar Canada.” He later expanded it into book form: The Donut – A Canadian History, University of Toronto Press, Scholarly Publishing Division, 2008. Penfield is now a professor at the University of Toronto.