Putting the Sex Back in Climate Change
Call it a lascivious attempt to get more hits: we call it a more titillating take on an otherwise dour topic. Courtesy of New Scientist, we have two new studies that connect the dots between global warming, pollution and sex — exploring their effects on the size of polar bear penis bones and on the potential for Australian central bearded dragons to "switch" their sex.
Christian Sonne of the University of Aarhus, Denmark, and his colleagues found that polar bear penis bones in Eastern Greenland were shrinking, most likely due to the high prevalence of pollutants — such as PCBs and DDT — and the difficulty of finding food in a warming climate. An earlier study in 2004 had determined that polar bears and other carnivores living near the poles tended to have longer penis bones to make them more competitive. Polar bears in Eastern Greenland were less well "endowed" and, subsequently, competitive than were their cousins in Svalbard and the Canadian Arctic. In Australia, a team of scientists led by Canberra University's Alex Quinn recently discovered that high temperatures could effectively "switch" the sex of central bearded dragons. Incubating the lizards' eggs at temperatures between 34°C and 37°C caused a majority of male embryos to hatch as females — an effect that has scientists worried about their long-term survival in the face of intensifying climate change.
Via ::New Scientist Environment: Sex and climate change (news website)
See also: ::Is the Aldabra Banded Snail the First Global Warming Related Extinction?, ::Butterfly Back from the Brink of ExtinctionImage courtesy of Pixel Packing Mama via flickr