"It is true, and thus the question of whether it is sad or happy has no meaning whatever."
Bernhard Schlink

Science is best when discussed: leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments!!

Thursday, December 21, 2006

The Ultimate Feminist Ideal: Two-Headed Reptiles 

Female reptiles don't really need males for much of anything, including reproduction. Recent (possibly) virgin births by komodo dragons represent the first time we've seen parthenogenesis in that species, but it is quite common amongst other reptiles. There's a catch though, ladies: the parthenogenic offspring are all male!

Speaking of strange offspring, researchers in China have found a two-headed reptile fossil. It appears as though the specimen died very young, and so was probably just the product of a birth defect, not a man-eating dragon.

Humans have offspring too, of course, but for us the process is made rather more complicated by (among other things) busybodies who want to dictate 'morality' on us all. Despite all the preaching, it seems that the vast majority of Americans are having premarital sex. Needless to say, the usual suspects are decrying the research, and demanding that more money be spent on 'abstinence education.'

Once human kids are conceived, that's really just the start of their problems - it's increasingly likely that they'll grow up to be fat and suffer from some chronic disease, et cetera. Many factors influence how fat people get, including exercise, diet, and, it seems, the bacteria in their guts. US researchers have found that obese people (and mice) seem to have higher proportions of certain natural gut bacteria, which allow for better absorption of calories from food. This is really a cool concept, and one that, if it turns out to be a major factor, could maybe be pretty easy to treat.

Also, living in the suburbs makes your kids fat. Duh.

The good news? More vitamin D may reduce risk of developing multiple sclerosis - a nasty autoimmune disease which ravishes the nervous system, and high blood alcohol levels may actually help you survive the car crash you caused by driving drunk. Very interesting, but weird.

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