Throughout the animal kingdom, genitals are very complex—way more complex than they are in humans. Take the male argonaut octopus, for example, which has a detachable penis that can swim on its own. Or consider female kangaroos, which have three vaginas and two uteruses each. On the surface, these genitals might seem way more complicated than they actually need to be for reproductive purposes. So why is that?Read More
Sometimes, science makes us laugh before it makes us think--and this is precisely why the Ig Nobel awards were founded back in 1991. The goal of these awards is to recognize scientific achievements that might sound silly or absurd at first, but that ultimately yield useful knowledge and challenge us to think differently about the world.
I have a sneaking suspicion that one of the contenders for the next Ig Nobel competition will be a new paper published in the journal PLOS ONE, which explores what the faces of humans and the rear ends of chimpanzees have in common.
Yep, that's really what they studied. But please bear with me--I promise, it's a funny story that tells us something fascinating about both sex and psychology.Read More
Why do humans and so many other species reproduce by having sex? If you think about it, a case could be made that asexual reproduction is faster and more efficient than sexual reproduction in a lot of ways (I mean, at the very least, reproducing asexually saves time by eliminating the need to find a willing partner). To the extent that this is true, then why did so many organisms evolve to reproduce sexually?Read More
Kissing is frequently claimed to be a universal or nearly universal romantic behavior. For instance, many sexuality textbooks argue something to the effect that while kissing is common in the U.S. and other Western countries, “it is also very common in most other societies” . On the surface, such claims might seem reasonable in light of research suggesting that kissing may have evolutionary significance. For instance, some scientists have argued that kissing may be adaptive because it allows for an exchange of healthy bacteria, whereas others have claimed that kissing might play an important role in mate choice. In order to make claims regarding the universality of kissing, though, what we really need is a large cross-cultural study looking at whether kissing actually occurs among different groups of people. Fortunately, such a study has just been published in the American Anthropologist, and the results suggest that kissing isn’t quite the universal behavior that has been previously assumed .Read More
The male orgasm plays a vital role in human reproduction, given that it typically coincides with ejaculation. Indeed, a man who cannot reach orgasm would likely have a very difficult time ever reproducing. By contrast, the same cannot be said for women--as long as a woman is near the fertile phase of her cycle, she has the potential to become pregnant regardless of whether she orgasms during sex.
This observation has generated a lot of research and debate about why the female orgasm exists. For example, does it have an adaptive purpose we aren't aware of? In other words, do women's orgasms facilitate reproductive success in a non-obvious way? Or is the female orgasm just an evolutionary byproduct that has no impact when it comes to reproduction? Scientists don't agree on the answer, but they've proposed a number of theories. Here's a review of the three most popular ones:Read More
Every Friday on the blog, I answer people’s questions about sex, love, and relationships. This week’s question comes from a male reader who asked the following:
“I ejaculate prematurely when I am with my wife, but I last for hours with other women. I am really turned on by my wife and we talk dirty to each other about cuckold stuff. I also know she has had sex with another man/men even though we are married, but she will never speak of the extent of her sexual escapades. So, what is my problem? Can you explain why I might have premature ejaculation with her but not other women?”
Thanks for this interesting question. Before you start labeling this situation a “problem,” let’s take a look at what the research says.Read More
Some scientists have argued that kissing is an evolutionarily adaptive behavior. Their hypothesis is that, because kissing provides a mechanism for sharing certain types of bacteria and viruses, it could therefore potentially offer certain benefits, such as providing a form of immunization against viruses that might be harmful to a developing fetus (see here for more on this idea). However, there really hasn’t been any research on the biology of kissing that can speak to whether or not there is anything to back up this idea—until now. A new study just published in the journal Microbiome reveals that passionate kissing may fundamentally alter the composition of the microorganisms that colonize the insides of our mouths.Read More
Women have the potential to become pregnant whether or not they reach orgasm during vaginal intercourse. This observation has generated a long-standing scientific debate about why women have orgasms in the first place. If the female orgasm is not essential for reproduction, then what purpose does it serve? Although scientists do not yet agree on the answer, a number of interesting theories have been offered.Read More
“Why are we so drawn to dance, and is it really equivalent to a human mating call? More importantly, does dancing increase your potential to ‘get some?’”
In the fascinating video below, the folks over at ASAP Science take a look at the science behind dancing and come to the conclusion that our groovy might have evolved to serve a very important purpose. In fact, it was Darwin who first suggested that dance might represent some human mating ritual that has implications for survival and reproduction. How so? Dancing may be one very visible way of demonstrating your genetic fitness to potential mates. And we aren’t the only species that does this—some animals and insects also use dance to communicate their sexual desirability.Read More