I almost had to post on llamas as a Valentine's day gift and llamas as the new Israeli soldier. Just when I had given up hope of finding a suitably humorous news item to make fun of this little gem was dropped in my lap. Well, read on, maybe it's not a little gem. Maybe it's a massive set of family jewels.
SYRACUSE, New York (AP) -- For some male bats, sexual prowess comes with a price -- smaller brains.
(The joke is just toooooo easy here.)
A research team led by Syracuse University biologist Scott Pitnick found that in bat species where the females are promiscuous, the males boasting the largest testicles also had the smallest brains. Conversely, where the females were faithful, the males had smaller testes and larger brains. "It turns out size does matter," said Pitnick, whose findings were published in December in "Proceedings of the Royal Society: Biological Science," an online journal.
"Bats invest an enormous amount in testis, and the investment has to come from somewhere. There are no free lunches," said Hoskens, who did not participate in the study. The relationship between the breeding system and relative brain size has received little investigation, said Pitnick, who teaches evolution and population biology and researches topics such as sexual selection and sexual conflict.
(The real scientists, the ones with big brains, were probably busy looking for a cure for cancer or something else productive. I wonder if Scott has very large testicles. Maybe I could get a government grant to study the correlation between testicle size and the propensity towards bizarre research projects. Wait, if I do that does it indicate I am hiding a set of cajones? Gads! The research potential here is as massive as a set of bat's nuts!)
"If female bats mate with more than one male, a sperm competition begins," Pitnick said. "The male who ejaculates the greatest number of sperm wins the game, and hence many bats have evolved outrageously big testes."
(I've heard of competitions like this. I think they usually occur at frat parties.)
Promiscuity is known to make a difference in testicle size in some other mammals. For example, chimpanzees are promiscuous and have testicles that are many times larger than those of gorillas, in which a single dominant male has exclusive access to a harem of females. Large brains, meanwhile, are metabolically costly to develop and maintain.
(Has anyone examined llama testicles? I really think this is an overlooked area of research. We really need to get right on this! It could answer the burning question of why they make a good Valentine's day gift or an excellent soldier.)