Sunday, September 20, 2009


Improbable Research - In a monograph called Excess of Counterclockwise Scalp Hair-Whorl Rotation in Homosexual Men, Dr Amar J S Klar announces a subtle discovery. "This is the first study," he writes, "that shows a highly significant association of biologically specified counterclockwise hair-whorl rotation and homosexuality in a considerable proportion of men . . . Klar heads the developmental genetics section of the gene regulation and chromosome biology laboratory at the National Cancer Institute in Frederick, Maryland. His hair-swirl study appears in a 2004 issue of the Journal of Genetics. The phenomenon is easy to overlook. Klar explains: "Since the hair whorl is found at the top ('crown') of the head and thereby it is difficult to observe one's own whorl and the direction of orientation is seemingly an unimportant feature, most people are oblivious to the direction of their hair-whorl rotation. . . "


Live Science - lamingos (Phoenicopterus rubber) are known to often stand on one leg while resting. Scientists have put forward a number of ideas as to why the birds favor this unipedal stance while taking a snooze, but none had ever tested out their explanations. Enter Matthew Anderson, a psychologist at Saint Joseph's University in Philadelphia. Anderson had studied various behaviors of flamingos, including why they tend to prefer bending their neck to the right and not the left when they lay it on their backs to sleep. The next logical step in his research was to see if they had a preference for their right or left foot while standing and resting. It was then that Anderson noticed that no one had even tested why flamingos favor standing on one foot over two. . .

The team noted the temperature and weather conditions when the flamingos were resting. They found that when it was warmer, more birds would stand on two feet, while in cooler weather, more favored the one-legged stance. (Overall though, the majority of the flock favored standing on one leg.) The idea that a bird that lives in tropical climates would need to hold in its body heat may seem counter-intuitive, but flamingos spend most of their time in the water, and water causes them to lose body heat more rapidly - just think about the shiver that comes after getting out of a pool, even on a hot summer day. While more research needs to be done, particularly in observing wild flocks of flamingoes, Anderson said his work, to be detailed in an upcoming issue of the journal Zoo Biology, shows that thermoregulation is a key reason behind the iconic flamingo stance.

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