Study Reveals How Flies Mate by Shaving Them with a Laser
Nature is plumb full of bizarre genitalia. Even more bizarre is how often we as humans choose to study the topic--or blog about it.
For example, if you're inclined to look at fly genitalia, you'd notice the males are covered with hooks and spines. These spines vary so much that a trained biologist could easily identify the species based on that alone. But what's the purpose of these spines? Do they injure the female during mating? Or do they pierce the female, as they do with other insects?
That's what biologists want to know...but if you ask me, it's just an excuse to look at insect junk. Regardless, this type of research often requires hair-raising techniques, like fluffing beetles or getting ducks to mate with a glass tube. This case isn't any different.
Michal Polak and Arash Rashed pretty much man-scaped the male flies with a laser to see how it affected their sexual performance. The spines themselves were too small to cut by hand. They did it with such surgical precision that they could cut off a third of each millimetere-long spine, or the whole darn thing.
As it turns out, the spines are like biological Velcro. A partial shave did nothing, but getting a full blown Brazilian wax reduced the odds of mating to around 20-percent.