The velocity of penguin poop and other odd scientific studies

Okay, all you climate change doubters and intelligent design believers: I get it. I understand why sometimes it’s hard to take science seriously.

Well, not really…I just wanted to reel you in with a little empathy. But the truth is, when you read about some of the crazy stuff that supposedly legitimate scientists spend time and money studying, well, it does make you wonder where their heads are.

For example:

Average pee time doesn’t change with body size

According to a study published in the May 2014 Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), scientists have shown it takes mammals about 21 seconds to pee—plus or minus 13 seconds—regardless of their body size. The researchers determined this after watching videos of animals peeing at the Atlanta zoo. Their findings “reveal that the urethra is a flow-enhancing device, enabling the urinary system to be scaled up by a factor of 3,600 in volume without compromising its function.” Yeah, tell that to a guy with an enlarged prostate.

Penguins poop with 4 times more velocity than humans

In the apparent universal quest to understand animals’ elimination habits, scientists at Germany’s International University Bremen observed that penguins forcibly expel their poop away from them, a skill that likely helps keep their nest clean. Intrigued by this fecal phenomenon, the researchers sought to measure just how much force it took to do so (yeah, that would keep me up at night, too). They concluded that the birds blast their BMs with about 4 times the pressure of a human, and can shoot it up to 40 cm (about 15 inches) away from their body. They also noted, “Whether a bird chooses the direction into which it decides to expel its feces, and what role the wind plays in this, remain unknown.” I smell a follow-up study…

Chickens walk like dinosaurs when you put a stick on their butt

According to scientific evidence, birds evolved from dinosaurs. A lot of dinosaurs, however, had big tails, prompting a team of U.S. and Chilean scientists to wonder what would happen if birds had big tails, too. So they attached toilet plunger-like weighted sticks to chickens’ butts and observed the chickens walking like the dinosaurs used to walk (which we recognize from the movie Jurassic Park, right?). I’m still trying to figure out this study’s relevance to my life.

Chickens prefer beautiful people

Researchers trained a bunch of the birds to react to human faces of the opposite sex by pecking a touch-screen. When researchers began to display “more attractive” faces (as rated by human volunteers), the chickens invariably pecked more profusely, indicating a preference for pretty/handsome. What does this mean? I dunno…stay away from chickens if you’re insecure about your looks? There may be a pecker joke in there somewhere, too.

Men are more likely to pick up hitchhikers with bigger breasts

Duh. Like we needed a study to tell us this? Well, a French scientist apparently thought we did. He conducted a field study in which he stationed a young woman wearing an adjustable cup-size bra by the side of a road and observed while 1,200 people stopped to pick her up. Lo, 24% of men motorists offered her a ride when she was a C, versus only 17.79% for the B cup and 14.92 for the A. In a dramatic twist, women drivers showed no preference.

Psychopaths dress for success

A research team at Washington University in St. Louis found that people who demonstrated the “Dark Triad” traits of Machiavellianism, psychopathy and narcissism were more likely to dress in a way that attracts attention. According to the researchers, DTs deliberately worked on their appearance to create a better first impression, imparting a seductive lure. So all those celebs on best-dressed lists? They’re psychopaths, apparently.

Rich people are greedy, cheating liars

The revelations of the recent election aside, results of a study in the February 2012 PNAS suggest that members of the upper class are more likely to act out of self-interest than those less financially well-endowed. People from different social classes played a computer game and were told they’d win more cash with higher numbers from rolls of the dice. Unbenownst to them, however, the total score could never exceed 12. But when participants related the sum of their rolls, the wealthier gamers were more likely to cheat and report scores higher than 12.

Other studies have shown that rich folks were more likely to cut off other drivers, not stop for pedestrians in crosswalks, and take more candy from a jar after being told what they left would go to children. Asshats.

So there you have it: seven science-based answers to questions we never even thought to ask. You’re welcome.

Given some studies
I can see why science can seem
unbelievable.

So what do you think? I’d love to hear from you!

Roxanne Jones

About Roxanne Jones

By day, Roxanne Jones is an award-winning freelance copywriter specializing in health and medicine. She launched Boomer Haiku, a humorous blog about life as a baby boomer, in 2015, and a Boomer Haiku greeting card line in 2016 (available at 6 Maine stores; visit www.boomerhaiku.com/shop/ to learn more). Born and raised in Brunswick, she left Maine after high school (Class of 1971) and, after living in Massachusetts and California, came screaming back to her home state in 2006. She enjoys chardonnay, laughing at the foibles and frustrations of getting older, and contemplates plastic surgery to get rid of the wattle on her neck.