December 17, 2007

Of flip-flopping flies and glowing cats

Scientistis used a combination of drugs and genetic manipulation to turn the homosexual behavior of fruit flies on and off within a matter of hours.

While the genetic finding supports the thinking that homosexuality is hard-wired, the drug finding surprisingly suggests it's not that simple. Homosexuality is widespread in the animal world. But scientists have long debated whether, in humans a "gay gene" exists. Previous research in humans has suggested that how we interpret scents given off by another person might impact our sexuality.

Elsewhere, scientists studied zombie cockroaches

A new study has shown that cockroaches that turned into "zombies" after being stung by a parasitic wasp can be revived with an antidote. Cockroaches can lose their ability to walk when stung by jewel wasps (Ampulex compressa) – the females of which use the cockroaches to feed their young. The wasp, being much smaller than the cockroach, has evolved a fine sting that can deliver a venom cocktail directly into the cockroach’s brain. The poisons effectively turn the cockroach into a zombie.

No more cat-n-mouse games?

Cat and mouse may never be the same. Japanese scientists say they've used genetic engineering to create mice that show no fear of felines, a development that may shed new light on mammal behavior and the nature of fear itself.

and elsewhere...

A team of Korean scientists led by Kong Il-keun, a cloning expert at Gyeongsang National University, produced three cats possessing altered fluorescence protein (RFP) genes, whereby the cats glow under ultraviolet beams.

Aaah... the wonders of science! Mankind is going to face some mighty ethical questions this next century.

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