Saturday, March 17, 2012

Of Flies and Men

Okay, for those of you live under a rock, you missed THE BIGGEST SCIENCE STORY OF THE DECADE yesterday.

Now, we humans are what biology types call vertebrates. Like birds, snakes, fish, turtles, and horses, we have spines.

Invertebrates is the really big group out there (97% of animal life on Earth). It includes flies, spiders, lobsters, coral, squids, and lots of others.

From what we know, we branched off from them roughly 535 million years ago. So with our last common ancestor being PRETTY OLD, you'd think we wouldn't have a lot in common.

But, apparently we do.



(Drosophila, by the way, are flies)


As published in the journal Science yesterday, if you take a bunch of horny male fruit flies, and deprive them of female companionship, they turn to consuming alcohol as a coping mechanism.

Now, anyone who knows a guy, or is a guy, is aware that this behavior clearly exists in human males, but it's interesting to find it in a life form fairly different from ours. Of course, I'm not sure if this has been tested in closer relatives, like dogs or chimpanzees. So it's possible this is some odd vestige left from 535 million years ago that's persisted in only 2 species.

Granted, I think it's unlikely there were any bars open then (although one near Big State University when I attended it may have been, as I don't think the bathrooms had been cleaned since trilobytes had used them).


I'm left with a few questions:

1. Is this where the rejection line "buzz off" originates?

2. Do flies have flying-insect-based porn flicks to turn to? If so do they feature stars with names like Jenna Erecta?

3. Who the hell thought of studying this in the first place? Where did they get funding? And how did they keep a straight face while asking for a grant?

4. Does this somehow relate to the fact that fruit flies have the longest sperm on Earth (2.3 inches each sperm! I SWEAR!)*

5. If the sexually satisfied flies are the ones hanging out on dog shit, and the deprived are the ones getting shit faced, which is worse?

6. Did anyone do this on female flies? When sex-deprived do they go shopping?


And last, I should add Mrs. Grumpy's comment that this proves males are a lower state of evolution than females, and simply haven't changed much in 535 million years.


* If knowing this fact ever helps you win millions on Jeopardy, please remember who told you. I take Paypal.

17 comments:

Julie said...

2.3" per sperm?!?

Yes that's what I got from this ....

Anonymous said...

You should have heard all the jokes flying on our local rock station (out of Eugene, OR). They did talk about finding new treatments for alcoholism though, I thought that was very interesting.

Comparing humans to flies when it came to alcohol and sex was pretty funny...

Rick said...

"further study is required to determine the frequency of headaches in the female fruit fly."

popeyemoon said...

Sorry blag hag posted this on the 15, but i did not know about the sperm length something I will file away.

Officer Cynical said...

God only knows what the monotremes are doing...

RehabRN said...

I did see this yesterday. Who knew about the sperm thing though.

I'm still trying to get on Jeopardy. Will let you know just in case there are any fly questions.

Solitary Diner said...

Thank you Dr. Grumpy for causing me to search "fruit fly sperm length" on my post-call day. I have reached an all new low.

Neuroscience PhD said...

At the risk of being labelled a smart-ass know-it-all, I'm going to point out that these are fruit flies, not the dog-shit hanging flies. So being attracted to ethanol (from decomposing fruit) maybe just means they're comfort-feeding. Not as much fun, I know.

Don! said...

And last, I should add Mrs. Grumpy's comment that this proves males are a lower state of evolution than females, and simply haven't changed much in 535 million years.

I don't see how this proves anything about males vs females, even in a tongue in cheek way, as I don't see where female fruit flies were even tested for this behavior. Anecdotally, the behavior does often occur in human women.

heterodyne said...

I read "depravation" - what does this tell about me?

C R X said...

No post about match day? I'm disappointed.

Anonymous said...

I'd read this, but you took it one step further and came up with some good one-liners. Thanks for the belly laughs!

jkc313 said...

turtles don't have spines

Evyl Robot Michael said...

@jkc313 - They don't? http://www.flickr.com/photos/buttercupcaren/5967844093/

Anonymous said...

I don't think Jenna would be the erecta one..

C said...

agree with smart ass- fruit flies, alcohol in fuits, no stoy at all. sorry.

Anonymous said...

http://articles.latimes.com/2013/nov/28/science/la-sci-sn-sexual-frustration-lifespan-20131127

 
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