Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Having a ball with the latest Great Finding in science!

You can never tell what's been funded in the name of hard-core, serious-minded, fundamental paradigm-shifting, transformative science.  Limited journal (and magazine and online 'science' news sources) mean that only the hottest, most trenchant research is published to an astounded audience.

This week's mega-story, about a paper published in PNAS, is told, among many other places, on the BBC--and meriting a headline at that:  Testical size is related to child-rearing behavior!  Hey, guys!  Size does matter after all!  The tinier your privates (well, some of them) are, the kinder, gentler you are and the better fathering you provide your beleaguered spouse.  This goes strikingly against the theory that males are all about rutting and fighting and disappearing after their mate starts to 'show' that she's preggie and not so interested in rolls in the hay. 

So tender and sweet a Dad.  (image from the BBC web page)

Instead, those men with tinier equipment prefer to stay home watching Junior, cooing and doing all those wishy-washy girlie things.  (Unfortunately, blog ethics standards prohibit us from showing images of the research material itself; however, readers with deep scientific interest in the research, can find similar items, of varying description, in many other more explicit web sites)  Now this is a surprise, since child-rearing could actually be related to fitness (which, we remind readers, is about successful reproduction).  So why is it that the Big Brute image of maleness, and the drive selection would have to make guys leave the nest and go out on pick-up missions, ever became the Real Truth about sexual reproduction?  If this is so important, of course, we'd expect that over evolutionary times, the success of the smaller set would have become established by natural selection. By now, we should all have marbles instead of basketballs, and this should not vary very much, and there should be a gene 'for' keeping size under control.  So how is it that this Fundamental trait is still so variable, or that so much science (that is, simple-story evolutionary speculation about how size matters) has been so widely accepted?  We'll leave that for you to contemplate, as the topic du jour.


Holly Dunsworth said...

In one of the disseminations I read (think Fox?), it mentions very early on how it received no federal funding.

Holly Dunsworth said...

Small testes are harder for children to whack with whiffle ball bats and and piss off their fathers. Hence, better fathers.

Anyway, there's my contribution based on hours and hours of careful observation of America's Funniest Videos. I'm not the only one:

Anonymous said...

Perhaps low testosterone is associated with finding the smell of baby poop pleasant?

Ken Weiss said...

We could run with that thought (I'm not referring to the baby poop's consistency). A ping-pong sized Dad cuddles and swaddles his spawn, is exposed to all sorts of yellow E. coli, and passes to the Beyond sooner than a Dad with coprophobia?

Or is it that the roving soccer-ball sized Dad is exposed to other sorts of bugs (STD's) and doesn't live to procreate further?

There must be many other hard-core research topics herewith associated!