July 21, 2012

"The prairie vole is a notable animal model for its monogamous sexual fidelity, since the male is usually faithful to the female, and shares in the raising of pups."

"Another species from the same genus, the meadow vole, has promiscuously mating males, and scientists have changed adult male meadow voles' behavior to resemble that of prairie voles in experiments in which a single gene was introduced into the brain via a virus."

Okay, mad scientists and sensible-policy imaginationists, spin out your proposals and fantasies. Give me some long views of the landscape.

22 comments:

edutcher said...

What, we should replicate the virus and infect guys like jimbino and Oop?

smitty1e said...

[Don LaFontaine voice]
In a world. . .where a Higgs Boson gun can be used to turn Hope into Change and back again, the gay armies mass against the heterosexuals, conquering all 'traditional' sexual forms.
A vast gay orgy ensues. And another. And another.
But they are increasingly less orgiastic, for some reason none can fathom.
THE END

(The author of this comment does not subscribe to any such hyper-materialistic worldview.)

rhhardin said...

Meadow vole females are notorious nags.

wyo sis said...

Gives going viral a whole new meaning.

ndspinelli said...

The Kennedys would be a good meadow vole subject.

ricpic said...

Page 987, Section 356, Subsection A of Obamacare: "At the discretion of the Secretary all newborns of the producer taxpayer caste may be shot in the head with virus X to insure orderly monogamous future production. All newborns of the parasitic tax eating and ruling castes shall be exempt in order to SHWING forevermore."

Chef Mojo said...

I hear the ashes of prairie voles are good for rabies when mixed with red chickenshit...

Meade said...

rhhardin said...
"Meadow vole females are notorious nags."

Could be their poor oral hygiene.

wef said...

well, yes. the scientistic bs of anthropomorphism can sometimes be amusing

traditionalguy said...

Ah so. More molecules fiddling around in a double helix dance and making mammals do its bidding.

An intelligent comment would take a Phd in neuroscience. But a Joker comment might be that the anti-metreosexual gene has been found, and they call it the Biggs-Bossman.

I for one will wait for National Inquirer to think of a pithier headline for this discovery. Something like, "Once you've gone Black Holes, you don't go back"

Astro said...

I'd simply remind the Biologists that 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it.'
Each species has adapted to live in its own niche in nature.

It is useful knowledge to learn this in the lab, but keep it there. I hope no one is foolish to release an altered vole into the wild.

EDH said...

A 21st Century Vole?

Dinsdale?

n.n said...

Genetic manipulation to coerce a behavior would defeat the value of individual dignity. It is strictly an involuntary measure to effect a preferred outcome, which would be embraced by collectivists, cults, and fanatics.

deborah said...

n.n said...
Genetic manipulation to coerce a behavior would defeat the value of individual dignity. It is strictly an involuntary measure to effect a preferred outcome, which would be embraced by collectivists, cults, and fanatics.
----

Ya think?

Fanatics come in all stripes. I wonder what white supremecists or wimmen haters might come up with.

As an aside, I've been noticing the word collectivist lately...much more delicious than socialist :)

Marica said...

Just FYI-- this is such old news. That said, in the past year alone, researchers have been awarded about $20,000,000 in *new* NIH grant funds to research Microtus ochrogaster. Prairie voles are BIG academic business!

http://projectreporter.nih.gov/reporter_searchresults.cfm

Ken Green said...

That would be in-vole-untary monogamy, then?

traditionalguy said...

Hmmm. If we can find the gene that makes women have the breasts of Dolly Partin, the subservience to her husband of Debbie Reynolds and the intelligence of Professor Althouse, then I am in favor of this new science.

But then computers may steal them from us. They got my fantasy girl Julie Christie in The Demon Seed.

Stephen A. Meigs said...

I already have had for a decade or so a theory along these lines, not arising so far as I can recall from vole considerations. In my theory, prolonged periods of low female lust causes epigenetic changes that cause behavioral tendencies leading to lower rates of genetic selection, e.g., to increased monogamy. In my theory it is a grand cycle.

If there is much genetic diversity in a population, that causes female lust (because heterozygy causes that). This female lust over the generations causes inheritable epigenetic changes, i.e., to the chromosomes over the generations being more coated with "lust paint", as it were. Then, after a good many generations the lust paint builds up, leading to tendencies that cause a period of females choosing polygamy. This period of females being very parrticular about sexual fulfillment and not very particular about being cared for leads to much higher rates of female-initiated sexual selection, i.e., to a small percentages of males being fathers, which leads to lower rates of genetic diversity. This lower diversity, leading to increased genetic homozygy, causes lower female lust, which after the generations causes epigenetic changes to the DNA amounting to there being little "lust paint" on the chromosomes, which causes the females to be more monogamous, which leads to increased diversity as sexual selection is reduced, which is where we started.

It's pretty obvious that something like that is likely to be going on, because it is in the interest of species to react to sudden increases of genetic diversity (caused for example by previously separated populations coming together) with increased selective pressures--but it is only appropriate that such selection increases gradually, else good alleles in one population that happen in that population to be near bad alleles (of another gene) may die out unnecessarily. There needs to be a sort of semi-inheritable memory of past behavior, e.g., "lust paint", to allow responses to develop gradually.

The genetic characteristics that tend to cause female lust also probably cause male lust, though mostly I don't think male lust causes epigenetic changes. Male lust I think causes increased genetic crossings-over, as does female lust probably. In fact, the tendency of female lust to cause increased genetic crossover was the first characteristic of it that I posited, though since then that characteristic has become less and less important in my theories, until now I think the main importance of female lust is its tendency to cause increased intraejaculate sperm selection and its epigenetic effects.

Even with environmental stasis, there could be with my theory a natural oscilation back and forth between periods of low and high monogomy. My theory is sort of like the 1972 Doctor Who episode, "The Mutants", except that in Solonians it's thaesium radiation rather than female lust that plays the vital role.

Michael K said...

They are a huge subject in oxytocin research. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1319071

It has to do with behavior and bonding. A lot of this research is in autism.

for example.

traditionalguy said...

Meigs is way over my head. I think just he said that women get really hot for tall, dark and handsome foreign men with Italian accents.

Heck, I could have told him that just from observing the covers of the bodice ripper novels the women read to get aroused.

Skookum John said...

I have always wondered how it is that some men have such poor self-control when it comes to women. I've got a friend whose skirt-chasing behavior has been so foolish and destructive for so many years that maybe a genetic defect is the only thing that can explain it. Then you have the priapic politicos like Bill Clinton and the Kennedys, the types who I think get into left-wing politics just as a means of increasing their access to the vaginas of loose women with daddy issues. I've had no trouble staying faithful to my wife for thirty years despite several quite tempting opportunities to cheat, it just baffles me how men can be such slaves to their cocks.

Gahrie said...

But are they taxing the prairie voles to support the meadow voles baby mommas?