If a pregnant rodent is exposed to the scent of an unfamiliar male, she will often spontaneously abort. This is known as the Bruce Effect, after researcher Hilda Bruce who discovered the phenomenon while working at London's National Institute for Medical Research (NIMR) in the 1950s.
It's thought that the female rodent does this in order to make herself ready for mating with the new male — because the new male would probably kill the children of the other father once they were born, so why bother carrying them to term. The trick doesn't work with the scent of a castrated male.
The history of the NIMR (pdf - page 208) offers some interesting details about Bruce's research. The Parkes mentioned was Alan Parkes, her boss:
The Bruce Effect implied that every male mouse smells different to every other male mouse, at least to female mice, and that he produces a spectrum of odours that vary slightly between individuals of the same strain and differ markedly between individuals of different strains. With lateral thinking on how to prove their theory, Bruce and Parkes turned to Boake, a world famous perfumery.
Knowing how skilful perfumers must be in distinguishing between thousands of different odours, they persuaded some Boake representatives to visit NIMR for the purpose of smelling the mice. They invited them to sniff at pieces of cloth that had each been exposed to different cages of various mouse strains. The perfumers had no difficulty in distinguishing the different strains as all had a unique aroma; they even commented that four of the strains were quite similar – all of which had been bred from one original colony at Hampstead. They also noted that the CBA mouse strain, which was fairly new to NIMR, had a wonderful and pleasantly musky smell that could be of commercial interest in perfume manufacture!
Spiritual healer Dorina Rosin and her partner Maika Suneagle plan to have a "dolphin-assisted" water birth in the ocean, even though experts are warning that this poses many risks. For instance, there's the chance that a great white shark may show up. Also, dolphins in the wild aren't exactly the most docile creatures. They've been known to "toss, beat, and kill other mammals for no apparent reason despite enjoyment."
Nevertheless, Rosin and Suneagle feel these risks are worth it. After all, as long as they don't wind up dead, they believe their ocean-born baby will be able to speak dolphin. More info: CBS Atlanta
According to the Daily Mail, Bump Art is all the rage. This involves pregnant women painting their baby bumps. The Guardian interviews professional bump artist Julia Francis who says that "around 70% of women choose nature-based ideas such as flowers and leaves, a small percentage go for something 'really bizarre', and she has even done a few planets."
Well, it sure beats placenta art. I guess us men can always join in the fun by painting our food-baby bumps.
A prosperous farmer who was expecting another heir had a sudden call to go East, and as he was about to take his departure he called his hired man and said to him, "Now, Mike, I am obliged to go away for several weeks and want you to look after everything carefully, and especially my wife, who will likely have another baby before my return; I want you to treat her just as well as you treat the cows when they have their calves." Mike promised to comply with the request.
When the farmer returned home he found his wife and the new-comer in such a remarkably fine condition, he hastened to the barn to thank Mike for his good stewardship; but Mike replied, "I had a 'ell of a time to get the Missus to eat the afterbirth."
After posting a few days ago about the doctor who was speculating about the benefits of eating placenta, I realized I had merely scratched the surface of placenta weirdness. There's also a growing interest in placenta art — that is, smearing the placenta against a piece of paper and calling it art.
Another option is to transform your placenta into a placenta teddy bear. Your kid is sure to need years of therapy once he gets old enough to realize what he's been cuddling up with at night.
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Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction books such as Elephants on Acid.
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