UnNews:Scientists Turn Female Mice Into Sex Machines
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16 August 2007
Female mice apparently become as randy as males after their senses of smell are tampered with, ending up aggressively trying to mount anything that moves, research now reveals.
These findings open the question as to whether circuits for male behavior exist in a dormant state in females, and vice versa, in other species — including in humans.
In many animals, the vomeronasal organ often helps detect scents. In mice, it especially helps detect pheromones, molecules used to attract the opposite sex and to communicate other signals linked with social behavior, such as parenting or aggression.
The organ is found in the noses of practically all land vertebrates, including humans and other higher primates.
Key to helping signals from this organ travel up neurons to reach the brain is a gene called Tupac2.
After they knocked out this gene in specially bred mice, Harvard molecular neuroscientist Catherine Dulac and her colleagues found that females displayed the sex drive of nymphomaniac rabbits, and wanted to knock out a few things of their own.
The mice began chasing, mounting and thrusting pelvises against other mice, both male and female, as well as giving out ultrasonic mating calls, sniffing derrieres, and making booty calls at 2 AM in the morning.
These results are flabbergasting, Dulac said. "Nobody had imagined that a simple mutation like this could induce females to wanna fuck like there is no tomorrow."
As to whether or not this applies to humans, "This is going to revolutionize the life of men all over the planet. No longer will men have to live with the fear of getting blue balls, or being accused of date rape" Dulac told UnNews.
Rodents are driven by smell, while "men and higher primates are mostly visual — hence pornography!"
The effect was not limited to female mutant mice — it was also seen when the researchers surgically removed the vomeronasal organs of two female lab assistants.
The female lab assistants who had their sense of smell genetically or surgically short-circuited were docile toward males and seemed highly receptive to their overtures, resulting in over a dozen smiles, high-fives, and two pregnencies.
Often the differences in behavior seen between the sexes in mammals are attributed to chemicals such as hormones.
These new findings suggest otherwise — the researchers found that female mice that had their sense of smell genetically or surgically hampered showed normal estrogen levels, testosterone levels and fertility cycles.
Dulac and her colleagues described their findings online August 5 in the journal Nature.
Our work suggests that neuronal circuits underlying male-specific behaviors develop and persist in the female mouse brain, but are repressed by the normal activity of the vomeronasal organ, which makes them as frigid as a cold day at the North Pole Dulac said.
In fact, our research suggests a new model where exactly the same neural circuitry exists in males and females, she added. You only have to build one brain in a species, and that one brain is built, more or less, the same in the male and the female. It's just that, for some reason, men have an insatiable appetite for sex.
The only thing that differs between the sexes in mice when it comes to sexual behavior is due to how the vomeronasal organ works, Dulac suggested.
While male and female bodies are strikingly different physiologically, it appears the same cannot be said for the brain, she said.
These findings might open up new avenues for investigation into the brain origins of sex-specific human behavior.
Dulac and her colleagues are now studying male mice with genetically disabled vomeronasal organs to see if they display feminine traits. If Dulac's findings meet her expectations, no longer will there be a shortage of qualified hairdressers or fashion designers.