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10 Mind-Blowing Discoveries This Week

You may have had a bad week, but you can be thankful that a squid didn't try to knock up your face. This, and other science news.
 
 
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Photo Credit: Faiz Zaki/Shutterstock.com

 
 
 
 

Bad things may happen to you this week. You might have a photo taken that will haunt you forever, get attacked by a snake while on your motorcycle or have  life-threatening gas . But no matter how dismal things are you can be happy that the following story did not happen to you. Whatever ignominious BS you suffer, at least a squid didn’t try to knock up your face. 

1. Disgust-ink

It’s true: ABC News blogs reported on a paper from the Journal of Parasitology (which is an awesome name for a very bitter love story) that a 63-year-old Korean woman bit into a piece of par boiled squid and felt “severe pain” and a “pricking and foreign body sensation in her oral cavity.” 

But wait! There’s more! 

“Twelve small, white spindle-shaped, bug-like organisms stuck in the mucous membrane of the tongue, cheek, and gingiva were completely removed." The organisms were squid spermatophores or sperm packets which, MSN reported with horrified delight “celebrated their freedom by attempting to impregnate parts of the woman's mouth. Eep!”

Eep indeed. But how? 

Enter io9 with a wonderfully detailed story by Danna Staaf of the Squid a Day blog, who has an encyclopedic knowledge of squid sperm. The video of  Staaf speaking about it  is 100% worth watching. The short of it is that squid sperm packets have sharp ends that help them “burrow into the skin of the female squid… or the mouth of the connoisseur,” as Staaf puts it. 

So that’s how they embedded themselves in the mouth of the unfortunate diner: it’s what they do. But how were they able to do that after being par boiled? 

Staaf writes in io9 that her fellow squid fancier José Eduardo Marian of the University of São Paulo says that the spermatophores, which are inside a sac in the body cavity may never have made contact with the boiling water in which the whole, uncleaned squid spent just a few seconds. In the video Staaf notes that the squid was whole -- still full of organs -- and recommends simply that if you’re going to eat squid, “clean your squid first. Take out all the spermatophores, and you can eat it, no problems.”  A PSA if ever there was one. 

You’ve heard it before, but yes --  things can be transmitted orally so do yourself a favor: practice safe cephalopod. No one wants to end up with a mouthfulla packets. 

2. Male birth control gel

If only the squid-eater had had this to gargle with before dinner maybe it never would have happened. 

A gel being tested has the potential to be the first chemical birth control for men, reports Thomas H. Maugh II of the LA Times . The gel is a blend of testosterone and Nestorone and dramatically reduced sperm counts in test subjects. 

Nesterone is a synthetic progestin developed by the Population Council and doesn’t have the side effects progestin does, such as acne and altered cholesterol levels. Progestin helps boost the effects of testosterone, which can turn off the hormones that control sperm productions. Test subjects were either given either a) a gel containing  testosterone and “one of two concentrations of Nesterone,” or b) testosterone and a placebo. 

“A complete absence of sperm occurred in 78% and 69% of the men receiving the drugs (depending on dose), compared with 23% of those receiving placebo,” Maugh writes and 88-89% had a sperm concentration “compatible with very low pregnancy rates,” lead researcher Dr. Christine Wang reported. 

 
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