10 Mind-Blowing Discoveries This Week
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1. Facebook for tits
It’s sweeps week here at 10 Mind-Blowing Discoveries and because fate loves me it has handed me the gift of a story about wild great tits.
No lie: it’s a bird species around which Oxford researchers have constructed a “Facebook for animals” to help them observe the birds’ social behavior, which is important to find out things like their mating and eating habits and how disease is spread. Science Daily reports that Oxford University researchers recently tested a new method of observation that tells them where the birds go and how they spend their time…things you could observe about a person from studying their Facebook page. The data was collected by transponders attached to the birds during two breeding seasons and researchers could tell from collected information which birds regularly looked for food together or were starting the mating process. Just like you can on Facebook.
Great tis have a habit of pecking open milk bottles to get at the cream inside, something they learned to do en masse in Britain rather quickly -- how information spreads among animals is another area of study that will be helped by this approach, which I have no choice but to call Facebook-for-tits.
Sigh. See how dreams come true…but never quite how you planned?
2. Reptile sex to die for
The fossil record can also tell something about animal life, especially if the animal is fossilized during a particular activity. As Jennifer Viegas of Discovery News reports, fossils seldom preserve actual behaviors, though fossils of fish who died choking on large prey and fighting dinosaurs have been found and now researchers have discovered animals fossilized while having sex 47 million years ago, sex so good they didn’t realize they were swimming in poison while they were at it. They’re the first known mating fossils.
I dunno, I hate to burst anyone’s bubble but I live in Florida -- fossils having sex is pretty routine around here.
There were nine mating turtle couples found at the Messel Pit Fossil Site between Darmstadt and Frankfurt, Germany and though I was joking about them having sex so good they didn’t realize they were in a poisonous volcanic lake, it could be true. Walter Joyce, a researcher at the University of Tübingen says that some animals go into a trance-like state during sex or egg-laying and that the turtles probably started in “habitable water” but drifted farther into the lake where “their skin probably started to absorb poisons from the build-up of volcanic gases or decay of organic matter.”
I can totally see this happening. I’ve certainly been so doped up on love/lust that the world could end around me and I wouldn’t notice. What better way to make your exit than in your lover’s arms. Flippers. On their back. You know what I mean.
They were in the anatomical ballpark, but things certainly looked a lot less romantic for a pair of mismatched marine creatures who starred in the story that made my week: Octopus Hitches a Ride on Dolphin's Genitals .
“I tried that but we got a divorce,” you say, or “Talk about Octopussy...” and you haven’t even seen the picture yet. Click the story title, finish laughing and then provide your own caption, something like “She wanted surgery to get testicles, not tentacles,” or “That’s no octopus. I got one of those from a sex toy store. It sucked,” or “Go ahead and laugh but everyone on the beach will be wearing them this summer,” or “If itching persists see your doctor. If tentacles appear, JESUS CHRIST, CALL AN EXORCIST!”