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More Random Factoids

Everyone is probably glutted on holiday stuff, so I won't mention it, except to say that I got a copy of "Watchmen" and of "Mother Nature" (an anthropological study on maternal instincts or the lack thereof) and seeing them both on the table together made me realize that I'm a weirdo. (My husband also got me a snazzy optical mouse. It's only a matter of time before I blind myself with the little laser.)

The random factoid comes from this book on maternal behaviors, and has to do with infanticide in mice. Researchers couldn't figure out why some male mice would commit infanticide sometimes, but not others. And then some brilliant soul, in 1994, discovered that some species of mice have a--brace yourself--"ejaculation clock." Once the earth moved for the male mouse, a timer started up in the 'ol hind brain that lasts twenty-three days, the length of gestation/nursing. At the end of that time, the male mouse becomes infanticidal, because there is absolutely no chance he could have fathered any of the babies he's killing. If the mouse ejaculates at any point during that, then wham! Timer resets, because a male mouse doesn't want to kill his own offspring. A bizarrely elegant solution to the question of how to let your own young live, while turning the young of rival males into handy protein.

I realize this is a little weird and disturbing, but god, ain't nature cool?

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Have you read _The Red Queen_? It's been a while and my copy is loaned out so I can't give specifics, but it's generally about the biology of sex and sexuality. Fun read.


"Oh why, WHY?......."

Ahh yes to ensure his own bloodline continues, but yes that certainly was an interesting snippet, didn't realise that it worked quite to a tight schedule like that! Nature is quirky and unexpected like that! People are also ruled by seasons and other curious things too, as much as we think we're further from animals, we aren't all that much in a lot of respects! ;)

Anyhoo after visiting your personal homepage and checking out your latest art works(love the deal with the big pants and large feet), I hope you don't mind I added you to my live journal friends list :)

I had wondered how male animals could tell that offspring x wasn't theirs.

For many, scent provides the necessary indications, although this varies tremendously by species.

Humans are "just shy of blind" in the scent department; primates in general have sacrificed this somewhat for visual acuity.

===|==============/ Level Head

Have you any interest in reading a book I bought a while ago called "Sexual Selections"? It's written by a feminist biologist and is really interesting... combines biological sexual differences with human tendencies to use animals as an example. She argues that just because we THINK animals do something (mate for life, have homosexual relationships (that part is neat), etc) doesn't mean they actually do, and certainly doesn't mean we should do as they do...we should avoid using interpretations of animal behavior to try to understand humans.

She discusses especially how these "myths" of animal behavior (all females are sexually submissive, all female animals have a deep mothering instinct, etc) have contributed to the "male-centric" patriarchal nature of our society.

I can't explain it really, but it's quite a good read. I found it because Discover ran a review that peaked my interest. :)

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