Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Headline Magic! News on Great Tits....

So, here's the headline:
"Flashier Great Tits Produce Stronger Sperm!"
Now, I expect that's right, on the merits.

But it turns out that the article is about how bright and colorful chests, on birds called "Great Tits," are a sign of fitness.

Excerpt:
The birds' vibrant plumage appears to act like a flashing billboard, broadcasting the males' reproductive superiority to females eager to produce offspring.

The advertisement likely finds an appreciative audience in female great tits, since snagging a male with high-quality sperm isn't exactly a lark.

That's in part because free radicals threaten sperm cells in many animals, including humans. Created by cells when stressed by pollution and other factors, free radicals are groups of oxygen-activated atoms that can damage sperm cells, weakening their swimming ability. (Learn how DNA works.)

Many animals' bodies produce antioxidants that fight free radicals—including male great tits. The birds have an antioxidant called carotenoid that not only defends against free radicals but also gives their breast feathers a yellow hue.


ATSRTWT

Now, it will not be news to avid birders that there are many types of tits. I have to admit that I have never seen, and frankly would not WANT to see, the "bearded tit." I'm pretty open minded, but... One has to draw the line somewhere.

(Nod to Taren S-K, who has a highly refined sense of the absurd)