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Engineering Is a Man’s Field: Changing a Stereotype with a Lesson from India

Among rude people, the women are generally degraded; among civilized people they are exalted. —James Mill, The History of British India Two years back, we were putting together a report on the employability (job-readiness) of engineering students in India based on the results of AMCAT, a job-skills test my company and I developed (Aspiring Minds [...]

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Not bad science

Male Bark Beetles Have to Sing a Password to Be Given Access To a Female’s Home

A female blocks a male bark beetle from entering her gallery

The males of many animals compete with each other for females. This can be through direct fighting, as in the case of crickets and fruitflies. However, males also compete for female attention through courtship displays. One common way males compete for females is through song. Song allows females to assess males through how good they [...]

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Not bad science

What Makes Bowerbirds Such Good Artists?

The Great Bowerbird, Ptilonorhynchus nuchalis

Bowerbirds are perhaps the most intriguing artists of the bird world. Their beautiful constructions are built purely to impress females (they are not nests, as often mistaken to be). One bowerbird, the Great Bowerbird, creates a particularly fantastic bower: in addition to building a symmetrical avenue made of carefully placed twigs, he also rearranges the [...]

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Not bad science

Male Praying Mantids Have a Strategy For Not Being Eaten by Their Mates


We usually think about male and female mates getting along pretty well (that’s ‘mate’ in the biological sense, not your friendly British/ Australian friend). Often after mating, male and females have to work together to ensure that the female gets the nutrition she needs while incubating eggs or rearing offspring. Even after this, many animals [...]

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Not bad science

Homosexuality in Female Beetles, and What We Can Learn from It


With the historic supreme court hearings this week, there has been much discussion about homosexuality*. One of the ‘arguments’ that you often hear from the anti-gay rights side is that being gay isn’t natural. Evidence from the animal kingdom would refute this however, as same-sex behaviour is common and found in many different animals. There’s [...]

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50 Shades of Sea Slug Sex: It’s Stranger Than You Think

sea slug sex traumatic mating female

Two-part barbed penises, a physical struggle and 20 minutes of penetration. That’s how some sea slugs do it. But the real shocker is that, for one species at least, those in the female role seem to engage in these bizarre, violent sexual encounters more often than might be biologically necessary. Nothing about sea-slug sex sounds [...]

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