Saturday, July 12, 2008
Does Polution Lead to Choosing Bad Mates?
Estrogen mimics are a group of different molecules that attach themselves to estrogen receptors in cells and mimic the action of natural estrogen. DDT is an estrogen mimic, as are other estrogen-like chemicals (DEHP) that show up in plastic bottles and even nail polish. There has been suspicion that they can endanger animals by feminizing the sex organs of male frogs and fish living downstream from sewage treatment plants.
Now researchers in Wales have compared starlings raised in aviaries with those living near sewage treatment plants and they found that during mating season, the male who ate the "estrogen cocktail" (worms and bugs from rocky filter beds), sang 5 times as long and louder and composed more complex songs. To a female starling it was like a blue box from Tiffanys ...they were more attracted to those "estrogenized males."
OK, so what's the big deal? What is so wrong with having a little mating advantage? After all, human males have Viagra, right?
Blood tests showed that the doped male starlings were less fit. They had compromised immune systems and should not have been the first choice of the female bird. They fooled the female and were really the rejects.
Starling population in Britain have dropped by half in the last four decades. No one knows for sure why, but perhaps the gals are fooled into picking duds.
When I look a some of the bad choices human women make...I wonder if other pollutants are in play too. It ain't nice to fool mother nature.
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