Scientists have learned about humans' needs for personal space from a surprising source - fruit flies. Little was known about the mechanisms that allow us to determine when someone is'too near' or'too far,' but researchers just discovered it all has to do with dopamine - the neurotransmitter that controls pleasure and reward. They say this could have important implications for understanding people who are autistic, or have schizophrenia or other conditions. Scientists have learned about humans' needs for personal space from a surprising source - fruit flies. Little was known about the mechanisms that allow us to determine when someone is'too near' or'too far,' but researchers just discovered it all has to do with dopamine The team found that levels of dopamine can change how much space fruit flies need from each other.
To most people, the question might seem a no-brainer: is ejaculation a rewarding experience? In effort to better understand how ejaculation fits into the motivations behind the mating process in animals, from insects to mammals, scientists have conducted a bizarre experiment. Using optogenetic tools, researchers genetically engineered fruit flies to ejaculate when exposed to red light – and, perhaps unsurprisingly, the team discovered flies developed a strong preference for red light. Researchers placed the genetically engineered males in an arena in which just one side was bathed in red light. Then, they tracked their activity.
A wildlife photographer captured a stunning image of two male lions in Kenya's Masai Mara. A photograph of two male lions seemingly in an amorous embrace has some humans clutching their pearls. After the release of the photograph, taken in August at Kenya's Masai Mara National Reserve, Ezekiel Mutua, the chief executive of the Kenya Film Classification Board, blamed humans (or maybe demons) for the male-on-male mounting. "[P]robably, they have been influenced by gays who have gone to the national parks and behaved badly," Mutua told Nairobi News, before suggesting that the lions be isolated and studied because the "demonic spirits inflicting in humans seem to have now caught up with animals." The actual story behind the photograph shows that Mutua got some things wrong.
Ejaculates not only deliver sperm; other components promote sperm survival and control female reproductive physiology. Insects produce complex ejaculates in packages called spermatophores, which also act as plugs to prevent sneaky mating by rival males. Meslin et al. discovered that spermatophores are the object of an evolutionary arms race in cabbage white butterflies. These plugs have tough outer proline-rich capsules, but the female butterflies have evolved a range of proteases that can digest them and thus hasten the time when she can become receptive again. This butterfly has taken back control of her reproduction.
Male fruit flies seem to enjoy ejaculation as much as men do. Their "orgasms" seem to be satisfying enough to reduce their craving for other rewards such as alcohol. The experiment resembles the "orgasmatron", a fictional machine for giving people instant orgasms featured in the 1973 film Sleeper. Galit Shohat-Ophir of Bar-Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Israel and her colleagues engineered male fruit flies so that they could make them ejaculate at will. First, they genetically engineered neurons in the fruit flies' abdomens so that they could be activated by exposure to red light.