The elegant nature of science
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19-04-2017, 07:49 AM
RE: The elegant nature of science
Thee bull iceberg makes its seasonal voyage past Newfoundland, Canada's "Iceberg Alley" on its way to the iceberg breeding grounds.

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19-04-2017, 05:03 PM (This post was last modified: 19-04-2017 10:16 PM by kim.)
RE: The elegant nature of science
Here we go. A BIG one... but it's only coming close.
It happens tonight and it should be big enough to see with binoculars. Shy

The object, measured to be almost a kilometre wide, came within five times the distance between the Earth and the Moon.

A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move to higher levels. ~ Albert Einstein
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23-04-2017, 03:32 PM (This post was last modified: 23-04-2017 03:41 PM by Vera.)
RE: The elegant nature of science
Everything you never even knew you wanted to know about dolphin sex Shocking

"Harbor porpoises are really unique in that they wait for the female to come to the surface of the water to take a breath and then they leap out of the water and try to hook her with their penises."

(Also, this makes it sound like they have more than one penis! Gasp )

[Image: 138008_16x9.jpg?itok=mif2LLye]

Whales and dolphins have surprisingly interesting sex lives, replete with various positions, elaborate vaginas, and a rare type of penis that’s always mostly erect. Dara Orbach, a marine mammologist at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, has been studying these elaborate cetacean hookups for 7 years—and she’s made some shocking discoveries, some of which she’ll be presenting today at the Experimental Biology 2017 meeting.

Science sat down with Orbach to chat about her work—and the best part about studying the sex habits of some of the ocean’s most famous creatures.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Q: Let’s start with the most obvious question: Why study this?

A: Copulation is the most direct possible interaction between males and females, but we know so little about it largely due to the physical challenges of studying it, especially with underwater creatures. So it’s only by looking internally at the animals while they’re copulating that we can understand more about these mechanisms. We do this by looking at tissue samples from animals that died of natural causes. We use whole penises and whole vaginas.

Q: And then you go into the lab and put them together like puzzle pieces?

A: Yeah. But what makes our study more unique is that Diane Kelly, one of my co-authors, found a way to inflate these penises to their full erect size, which hasn’t been done before. If you think about a specimen that is postmortem, it’s going to start to shrivel up. We found a way to inflate them so they would be the most close mimic of what a real intromission would look like.
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Bottlenose Dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) swimming in Hawaii.
Flip Nicklin/Minden Pictures
Everything you always wanted to know about dolphin sex—but were afraid to ask
By David ShultzApr. 23, 2017 , 5:00 PM
Whales and dolphins have surprisingly interesting sex lives, replete with various positions, elaborate vaginas, and a rare type of penis that’s always mostly erect. Dara Orbach, a marine mammologist at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Canada, has been studying these elaborate cetacean hookups for 7 years—and she’s made some shocking discoveries, some of which she’ll be presenting today at the Experimental Biology 2017 meeting.

Science sat down with Orbach to chat about her work—and the best part about studying the sex habits of some of the ocean’s most famous creatures.

This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

Q: Let’s start with the most obvious question: Why study this?

A: Copulation is the most direct possible interaction between males and females, but we know so little about it largely due to the physical challenges of studying it, especially with underwater creatures. So it’s only by looking internally at the animals while they’re copulating that we can understand more about these mechanisms. We do this by looking at tissue samples from animals that died of natural causes. We use whole penises and whole vaginas.

Q: And then you go into the lab and put them together like puzzle pieces?

A: Yeah. But what makes our study more unique is that Diane Kelly, one of my co-authors, found a way to inflate these penises to their full erect size, which hasn’t been done before. If you think about a specimen that is postmortem, it’s going to start to shrivel up. We found a way to inflate them so they would be the most close mimic of what a real intromission would look like.


The bottlenose dolphin's vagina, seen here in gray, contains a number of intricate folds and flaps which the male's penis (red) must navigate if he is to deposit his sperm as close to the egg as possible.
Dara Orbach/Dalhousie University
Q: How does one inflate a dead dolphin’s penis?

A: We used pressurized saline, so essentially we had a nitrogen tank and we filtered the air under pressure into a smaller keg—like a beer keg—which was full of saline, and then pumped that into the penis.

Q: What are female genitals like to work with?

A: They’re amazing just because of this diversity, which has never been documented before. You open them up and you’re not really ever sure what you’re going to see inside. Is it going to be relatively simple? Or will there be these spirals? Or will there be deep folds? Or shallow ones? Opening up each reproductive tract is unique, and you never know what you’re going to see with a new species.

Q: In the wild, how do dolphins copulate?

A: It’s very variable. Some species, like dusky dolphins, copulate belly to belly. Bottle nose dolphins seem to make a T-formation, where the male crosses the female exactly at her midline. Harbor porpoises are really unique in that they wait for the female to come to the surface of the water to take a breath and then they leap out of the water and try to hook her with their penises.

Q: Could it be that some of the positions are just for fun?

A: This is what the whole purpose of the research is to understand. They have sex all year round even when they can only conceive for certain periods of the year. By looking at how the genitals align, we can now say certain body positions are more likely to lead to successful fertilization than others, which might be for purposes other than reproducing. Is it play? Is it working out hierarchies? Is it establishing dominance? Is it learning? There could be many functions of sex.

Q: What is the best and worst thing about this line of research?

A: I think the best thing is how exciting it is. I’ve never told anyone what I’ve done, and they’ve been bored with listening to me talk about it. Also, it was so faux pas to study sex and sexual behavior and genitalia for a long time that it really is an understudied field and there’s this huge opening in terms of new research directions. It seems like the sky is the limit.

The worst part? I don’t know if there is a worst part. I really, really love my job.

"E se non passa la tristezza con altri occhi la guarderò."
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23-04-2017, 06:25 PM
RE: The elegant nature of science
Cool! You just watch. Scientists will find new cures for old ills by studying these mammals' reproductive tracts. Yes
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23-04-2017, 06:31 PM
RE: The elegant nature of science
(23-04-2017 06:25 PM)Fireball Wrote:  Cool! You just watch. Scientists will find new cures for old (w)ill(ie)s by studying these mammals' reproductive tracts. Yes

Fixt.

"E se non passa la tristezza con altri occhi la guarderò."
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23-04-2017, 08:17 PM (This post was last modified: 24-04-2017 07:51 AM by Fireball.)
RE: The elegant nature of science
(23-04-2017 06:31 PM)Vera Wrote:  
(23-04-2017 06:25 PM)Fireball Wrote:  Cool! You just watch. Scientists will find new cures for old (w)ill(ie)s by studying these mammals' reproductive tracts. Yes

Fixt.

Laugh out load Forsooth! Though my first thought was there may be discoveries that help with women's cancers, since their stuff is inside.

I saw recently where stem cells from a guy's belly fat (via some process) were injected into the corpus cavernosa, and spontaneous erections were sometimes obtained (i.e., no Viagra or the amount required was reduced) after some healing interval.

Edited out redundant language.
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24-04-2017, 05:42 AM (This post was last modified: 24-04-2017 05:49 AM by Vera.)
RE: The elegant nature of science
Yeah, sorry, I'm knee-deep in yet another Neanderthlon of a book, so it's Miller Willy time for me. Again. Weeping

So. Can a spontaneous erection not be spontaneous? Mind blown...

Hmm... such poor choice of word in one who *should* know better.

Was told just recently they're developing an erectile dysfunction treatment from the venom of that local monstrosity, the wandering spider, whose bite gives one a several-hour long erection.

Par for the course for the characters in my books Dodgy

Move over, tardigrade, you've got competition. (well, not really, but still - impressive)

"Deprived of oxygen, naked mole-rats can survive by metabolizing fructose just as plants do, researchers report this week in the journal Science.

"This is just the latest remarkable discovery about the naked mole-rat—a cold-blooded mammal that lives decades longer than other rodents, rarely gets cancer, and doesn't feel many types of pain."

"E se non passa la tristezza con altri occhi la guarderò."
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24-04-2017, 06:07 AM
RE: The elegant nature of science
(23-04-2017 03:32 PM)Vera Wrote:  "Harbor porpoises are really unique in that they wait for the female to come to the surface of the water to take a breath and then they leap out of the water and try to hook her with their penises."

Consider Idea Thumbsup

“I am quite sure now that often, very often, in matters concerning religion and politics a man’s reasoning powers are not above the monkey’s.”~Mark Twain
“Ocean: A body of water occupying about two-thirds of a world made for man - who has no gills.”~ Ambrose Bierce
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24-04-2017, 07:53 AM (This post was last modified: 24-04-2017 07:57 AM by Fireball.)
RE: The elegant nature of science
(24-04-2017 05:42 AM)Vera Wrote:  Yeah, sorry, I'm knee-deep in yet another Neanderthlon of a book, so it's Miller Willy time for me. Again. Weeping

So. Can a spontaneous erection not be spontaneous? Mind blown...

Hmm... such poor choice of word in one who *should* know better.

Was told just recently they're developing an erectile dysfunction treatment from the venom of that local monstrosity, the wandering spider, whose bite gives one a several-hour long erection.

Par for the course for the characters in my books Dodgy

Move over, tardigrade, you've got competition. (well, not really, but still - impressive)

"Deprived of oxygen, naked mole-rats can survive by metabolizing fructose just as plants do, researchers report this week in the journal Science.

"This is just the latest remarkable discovery about the naked mole-rat—a cold-blooded mammal that lives decades longer than other rodents, rarely gets cancer, and doesn't feel many types of pain."

That erection isn't the only effect, or guys would keep a jar of them around for "emergencies". Fixed my redundancy, thanks. That's what happens when I'm sick or tired. At least I'm almost over this horrible cold.
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25-04-2017, 10:14 PM
RE: The elegant nature of science
After years of severe drought, California gets it's bloom on. Turns out ... it's a rare and glorious thing.

It is also visible from space. Thumbsup

A new type of thinking is essential if mankind is to survive and move to higher levels. ~ Albert Einstein
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