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August 20, 2013

Let's learn about the pseudo penis of the female hyena

newt in the throat
It is PRETTY DIFFICULT to tell the difference between male and female spotted hyena genitalia (the females of other hyena species do not have pseudo-penises, by the way). Not only is the pseudo-penis, which is an extension of the clitoris, almost as long and often thicker than the male penis, they also have a fused labia that resembles a scrotum. So yeah. There it is. And yes, these pesudo-penises can get erect and often do in social situations. It’s a submissive signal. . . . There’s another theory that I like a bit better that suggests that as the social structure of hyenas developed, females needed a way to control which males they were mating with. Another fact about the pseudo-penis is that it makes forced sex impossible. In fact, in order to have sex, a female has to roll back the front of her clitoris like a shirtsleeve (you don’t know how sad I am that I couldn’t find a picture of this) to allow the male’s penis to gain access. And it can still take some maneuvering. . . . So basically, you can’t force a female hyena to have sex if she doesn’t want to. This gives her complete control over who she mates with, and it means that the male hyenas have to go for a different strategy to have reproductive success: flowers and chocolates. Nah, I kid. It’s more like the male has to be as submissive and as sweet as he can to the females to establish a relationship in order to secure mating rights with her. Each time. As hyenas don’t form lasting pair-bonds (they are as promiscuous as cats!) it’s anything goes the next time the female comes into heat. Also, female hyenas prefer to mate with outsiders to their clan (spotted hyenas tend to be patrilocal) rather than males they have grown up with. This is probably to reduce the prevalence of inbreeding. Also, hyenas have a lot of same-sex sexual behavior. . . .

August 19, 2013

Research suggests Facebook makes people miserable

Facebook is a bummer, study says | The Passive Voice | Writers, Writing, Self-Publishing, Disruptive Innovation and the Universe
Don’t press the like button: Facebook is a bummer that makes us feel worse about our lives, according to new research. Facebook users in a study led by the University of Michigan wound up feeling worse about themselves after two weeks, and their moment-to-moment mood darkened the more they browsed the social medium. It didn’t seem to matter how big their network was, how supportive they thought their friends were, nor why they went to Facebook in the first place, according to the study published online Wednesday in PLOS One. “We were able to show on a moment-to-moment basis throughout the day how people’s mood fluctuated depending on their Facebook usage,” said University of Michigan social psychologist Ethan Kross, lead author of the study. “We measured lots and lots of other personality and behavioral dimensions, like, for example, frequency of Facebook use,” Kross said. “But none of the factors that we assessed influenced the results. The more you used Facebook, the more your mood dropped.” . . . . But other studies have suggested Facebook can evoke envy of others’ activities and profile, leaving users with diminished self-images. Another study suggested that people with low self-esteem don’t reap a benefit from tinkering with their online image, either. . . . . Toma suggested that users’ emotions and sense of worth may be negatively influenced by the discord between tailored online images of others and their unedited view of themselves. “Instead of doing a person-to-person profile, you’re comparing a profile and a person,” Toma said. . . .