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.
But, when it comes to survival (and especially mating), wild animals are quite often up to no good. A new BBC series called Animals Behaving Badly explores the wicked deeds of creatures who will do just about anything to get their way – including stealing babies, cheating the system, and waging all out wars. Though the Barbary macaques of Gibraltar generally live'idyllic' lives, the males are known to get in squabbles amongst themselves. And, the community has developed a peculiar tactic for settling a dispute. The males are known to'borrow' babies from others.
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.
Female fruit flies get a boost in their long-term memory after mating thanks to a molecule found in male fly semen. This molecule – called the sex peptide – binds to the sperm of male flies and is passed on to females, where it travels from the reproductive tract to the brain. It was already known that this molecule, which is unique to fruit flies, alters behaviour. After mating, it changes what females prefer to eat and makes them reject future mating partners, for example. It does this by acting on nerve cells, or neurons, located throughout the body.
Picky females have driven the evolution of mega sperm in males as a way to ensure that the gals will get only the best mates, new research finds. Tiny fruit flies have record-breaking sperm cells. The sperm of Drosophila bifurca can reach lengths of 2.3 inches (5.8 centimeters), for example. Researchers have long known that the peculiarities of the female fruit fly's reproductive tract are responsible for these enormous sperm, which take a huge amount of energy to produce. Female fruit flies have a sperm-storage organ in which they hold sperm from multiple matings.