|Users Online Now: 683 (Who's On?)||Visitors Today: 102,270|
|Pageviews Today: 184,829||Threads Today: 56||Posts Today: 924|
TRANSGENDER BUGS DISCOVERED IN AFRICA
User ID: 293212
10/03/2007 10:14 PM
Report Abusive Post
Report Copyright Violation
Scientists have discovered a real gender-bender of a bug, a species in which most females impersonate males.
Past research had already revealed the male bugs possessed fake female genitalia.
"We ended up uncovering a hotbed of deception," said evolutionary biologist Klaus Reinhardt at the University of Sheffield in England. "Nothing like this exists anywhere else in the animal kingdom."
Reinhardt and his colleagues investigated remote and dangerous bat caves in East Africa for the bloodsucking African bat bug (Afrocimex constrictus), a close relative of the bed bug. The bats were reportedly hosts for Ebola and other lethal viruses.
"We had to work in containment suits with full-faced respirators in sweltering temperatures for hours at end," Reinhardt said.
Sex among bat bugs (as with bed bugs) is violent. During copulation, males of these species pierce the abdomens of their mates with their genitals and ejaculate directly into their blood.
The researchers originally set out to investigate bat bugs in the hopes of shedding light on "one of nature's strangest phenomena — why males had female genitalia," Reinhardt said.
Unlike bed bugs, male African bat bugs have bogus female genitals—a fact the scientists freely call "bizarre." Past research found they mate with each other as well as with females. Although the sham genitals are convincingly intricate, they do not have a covering over them as real female genitals do.
Surprisingly, the scientists have now discovered that female African bat bugs practiced gender-bending also by impersonating males. Only one out of six females possessed conventional female genitals, while the rest had genitals resembling the fakes seen on males.
By masquerading as males, females enjoy less sexual attention. Given that sex leads to wounding in these bugs, Reinhardt and his colleagues suggest avoiding the trauma of sex makes sense. Indeed, the researchers discovered females that impersonated males had far less fewer than more conventional females.
[link to www.livescience.com]
Captain Marjorie, US Army