More from the Animal Behavior Society

17 08 2006

chapter 4: how do you stop a rat from smelling? expose them to two related individuals!

Indiana University is doing, kind of, a weird study with rats, where they’ve determined rats can determine , to some degree, if two people are related. they’re having women take showers with non-scented soaps and aviod fragrances, then giving a peice of clothing they’ve worn all day to a rat and counting the ticks of the clock that pass as they sit there smelling it. here’s the theory behind it. apparently, it’s been found that rats will spend longer times smelling things with a scent that they don’t recoginize. so, if you and Aunt Iris both donate an undershirt to the the study, when presented to the rat in succession, it may not waste much time smelling the second undergarment. now if you and ol’ Herb Rackler from apartment 2C, up the hall, are being used in the trial, the rat would theoretically spend much longer smelling Herb smelly shirt. NOW! how does this tie in with human kinship? Well, our genes determine many things, one of these things is the functioning of our immune system. studies have been done showing that our scent is related to the variations that we may have in our immunity. there’s even been studies that tried to prove that unknowing people will prefer smelly shirts worn by someone with an immune system and hence more different genetic makeup, to one worn by someone with simialr genes (say a close relative), all based on smell alone. So, a rat’s ability to be more interested in differing scents, allows us to make predictions as to how related two individuals are.

chapter 5: the great ape wants his must-see tv

i really can’t make light of this, because i’m a sucker when it comes to animals. give it a read. it’s about primates living in captivity and how we’re fucking them up. the only comfort i have is that i know some day the primates community will rise up against their human overlords and run society as they see fit. they’ll call it Chimp-topia.

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