Findings — From the January 2009 issue

Findings

Studies found that obese women have as many sex part ners as non-obese women, that obese men have fewer sex partners than non-obese men, and that men will spend more money on a date with a lady in red. Researchers discovered that handsome fathers pass on pretty faces to daughters but not to sons, and that facial scars make men more appealing to women for short-term but not long-term relationships, with women preferring scars that suggest violence or trauma rather than acne or chicken pox. Roosters that have had sex recently make more noise at dawn, and male antelopes click their knees loudly to demonstrate sexual prowess. Entomologists found that sex between male flour beetles may allow the males, by dribbling semen onto their partners, to impregnate the females those males later have sex with. San Francisco scientists grew a new prostate in a mouse from a single stem cell. Monogamous male mice were found to be less likely to suf fer from diabetes than were their polyamorous counterparts, and an elephant in Texas came down with a fatal case of herpes. After thirty-six years of celibacy, George, the last living Pinta Island tortoise, mated. Dutch researchers identified a premature-ejaculation gene.

Severely depressed pregnant women are twice as likely to give birth prematurely, and infants warmed in incubators are less likely to be depressed as adults. Proto-humans may have learned to create fire as early as 790,000 years ago. Middle-aged white Americans were killing themselves at a higher rate, and a third of heart attacks worldwide were blamed on unhealthy Western eating habits. Computer scientists who hijacked part of a large spam network established that one in 12.5 million junk emails results in a sale. Neurologists found that many people’s brains contain a designated neuron for identifying Jennifer Aniston. Scientists studying a stalagmite in Wangxiang Cave linked the fall of China’s Ming, Tang, and Yuan dynasties to weak monsoons. An Indian probe, Chandrayaan I, landed on the moon, and NASA’s solar- powered Phoenix lander on Mars went dead with the coming of the Martian winter. Global warming may stop Norwegian lemmings from jumping off cliffs.

Florida was threatened with colonization by such non-native cockroaches as the lobster roach, the Madagascar hissing cockroach, the orange-spotted roach, and the Turkestan cockroach, while off the state’s western coast, a crab was spotted riding a pink meanie jellyfish. Gelatinous salps were thriving in the Tasman Sea. Marine biologists discovered that sponges with glass skeletons can draw light deep inside their bodies, allowing symbiotic organisms there to flourish and the sponges, in turn, to grow large. Marine biologists were excited to have filmed a defecating whale shark, and seven of Puget Sound’s orcas were missing and presumed dead, which would mark the largest die-off among the region’s killer whales in a decade. “The population drop,” explained a local cetologist, “is worse than the stock market.” A dead Chinook salmon the size of a small woman was found in California. Scientists at Uppsala University determined that the Panderichthys fish started evolving fingers before it left the water. “It was . . . doing push-ups at the bottom of the river,” said the study’s lead researcher, “looking outside with its eyes.”

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