I want to leave my loyal readers with some crap to sift through while I’m gone that I hope will help you get to know me better. Please know you’ll all be in my thoughts. See you next week. In the meantime…
New research finds that females of the firefly species Photinus ignitus choose males based on flash pattern in their taillights. A long burning flash means the male can offer a high quality nuptial gift – a sperm package high in nutrients
[The long-burning flash is roughly the equivalent of a sports car and a healthy dose of Axe Body Spray.]
"Females that receive high quality nuptial gifts lay lots more eggs," Tufts University firefly researcher Sara Lewis told LiveScience. "So there is a benefit for females that choose one of these males."
[Although we lightning bugs withdraw early on occasion. The last thing we need is a bug catcher shaking us down for larva-support.]
But males of a related species, Photinus greeni, may not be so honest. The greeni males with the most desirable flash pattern do not provide the best nuptial gift.
[In other words, the above species may drive a cool sports car, but it’s about to get repossessed because he lost his second job as an Arby’s shift supervisor. He also has a tiny penis and a toupee.]
"The question now is whether the males are being purposely dishonest or signaling something else," Lewis said. "Females definitely notice the variation. They're still being choosey"
[I doubt males are being dishonest. When has a male of any species ever lied just to attain sex? This scientist is clearly being reckless with his hypothesis.]
Male fireflies are built to mate [True, dat! The lightning bug is the Ron Jeremy of the insect world] – basically their whole anatomy is dedicated to producing the sperm package [You mean they‘re just one giant ball? How do they fly?]. Making a good sperm package requires loads of energy [not as much as ejaculating it, certainly!] and most males can only produce about 10 in their short lifetime [Poor bastards. I can produce 10 in a good week]. The entire purpose of a male firefly's life is to mate, pretty much with any female that will accept them [Are we talking about lightning bugs, or Charlie Sheen?].
But female fireflies need to be choosey [not after a few mint juleps (rim shot!)] – they only live for two weeks in their adult stage and need to make those two weeks count. The small window of time is like firefly spring break [Yeah, if you show a female firefly some beads, she'll flash her bug titties and then puke peppermint schnapps from the balcony] – females will mate with multiple males and lay about 100 eggs.
If the greeni females aren't choosing based on signals indicating quality of the sperm package, which also contains proteins that will provide nutrients for her eggs, then what are they selecting for [I don‘t know. Maybe he has a great sense of humor (and an inheritance)]?
"One possibility is that greeni females are not as concerned about the nuptial gift but more concerned about male genetic quality," Lewis said. "Maybe males with certain flash patterns have good genes [Think Brad Pitt with a tiny pecker]."
Lewis is currently looking into whether there is sperm competition in fireflies – whether female fireflies can choose not only which males to mate with, but which males she will actually allow to fertilize her eggs [I hope he has a powerful microscope and a proclivity to watch].
This research, which the National Science Foundation partly funds, may further our understanding of human communication, signal evolution, and biomedicine.
[Frankly, I believe it has already, indeed!]