Ostriches have bloodless erections, according to researchers.
The large birds were previously thought to have blood-based erection mechanisms similar to humans. But scientists from Yale University have now confirmed that the birds actually enlarge their penises with lymph fluid. All other birds with a penis achieve erections in this way, leading scientists to believe the mechanism evolved in their ancient ancestors…
The majority of birds reproduce with a ‘cloacal kiss’ – touching together their cloaca for long enough for sperm to transfer from the males to the females. The cloaca is a single opening through which urine and faeces are excreted but certain species, including ducks, geese, swans and flamingos also possess a penis. In birds, this reproductive organ is unusual as it is enlarged by lymph: the fluid found in bodily tissues.
But the ratite family, from large ostriches to small kiwis, were thought to be the exception to this rule. “Earlier reports form the late 19th Century had suggested that the ostrich had a blood vascular erection mechanism, while no data existed for the emu or rhea,” said Dr Patricia Brennan who co-authored the study.
“Since all other birds with penises have lymphatic erection mechanisms, I always thought that it was strange that the ostrich would be blood vascular.”
To solve the puzzle, Dr Brennan and her team closely examined the penis of a male ostrich and three male emus and found some key differences. “The penis of the ostrich is fundamentally very different from emu and rhea because it is made out of a dense collagen matrix, but the lymphatic machinery is all there,” she told BBC Nature.
“Ostriches do have blood vessels near the surface of the penis, that makes it look pink, but the inside of the penis fills up with lymph, not blood…The reason why the change between blood vascular and lymphatic took place remains a mystery,” said Dr Brennan.
At first look, this might have had special meaning for male humans, a sex group which seems to be consumed with questions about erections. Poisonally, I’d suggest research be devoted to the study of raccoon and bear penises. They are perpetually stiffened by a bone running the length of the interior. A little weightlifting might help out with the rest of the process.
Scientists investigating the effects of cannabis on bone health have found that its impact varies dramatically with age.
The study has found that although cannabis could reduce bone strength in young people, it may protect against osteoporosis, a weakening of the bones, in later life. The team at the University of Edinburgh has shown that a molecule found naturally in the body, which can be activated by cannabis – called the type 1 cannabinoid receptor (CB1) – is key to the development of osteoporosis.
It is known that when CB1 comes into contact with cannabis it has an impact on bone regeneration, but until now it was not clear whether the drug had a positive or negative effect.
The study…showed that the same compounds decreased bone loss in older mice and prevented the accumulation of fat in the bones, which is known to occur in humans with osteoporosis. The results are published in Cell Metabolism.
Stuart Ralston, the Arthritis Research Campaign Professor of Rheumatology at the University of Edinburgh, who led the study, said: “This is an exciting step forward, but we must recognise that these are early results and more tests are needed on the effects of cannabis in humans to determine how the effects differ with age in people.
“We plan to conduct further trials soon and hope the results will help to deliver new treatments that will be of value in the fight against osteoporosis.”
They’re also getting a group rate from Mamma’s Pizza.
High impact activities such as jumping and skipping that can easily be incorporated into warm-ups before sports and physical education classes, have been shown to benefit bone health in adolescents.
The 10 minute school-based intervention, provided twice a week for about eight months, significantly improved bone and muscle strength in healthy teenagers compared to regular warm-ups.
Physiotherapist Ben Weeks said the warm-up which included tuck jumps, star jumps, side lunges and skipping with gradually increasing complexity and repetitions, was specifically designed to apply a bone-stimulating mechanical load on the skeleton. Students worked up to about 300 jumps per session by the end of the study.
“Eighty per cent of bone mass is accrued in the first 20 years and especially around puberty due to the circulating hormones. This study targets a window of opportunity in adolescence to maximise peak bone mass with high-intensity, weight-bearing activity.”
Along with the process of dumbing-down American students, when was it that we lost simple attention to exercise like this?
I won’t drive you nuts with the [true] tale of walking forth-and-back to school, every day. Frankly, it was fun. The disciplined exercise that was part of every gym class in elementary school wasn’t fun; but, it obviously had good results.
I’d like to know why it disappeared – so, we don’t repeat the mistake.