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  1. #1
    Atomic Punk
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    Default How the human penis lost its spines

    You've read the headline, and it probably made you giggle. Go ahead. Get it out of your system. Then take a deep breath and consider how evolution affected a few specific body parts, and why.

    Humans and chimpanzees share more than 97% of DNA, but there are some fairly obvious differences in appearance, behavior and intellect. Now, scientists are learning more than ever about what makes us uniquely human.

    We know that humans have larger brains and, within the brain, a larger angular gyrus, a region associated with abstract concepts. Also, male chimpanzees have smaller penises than humans, and their penises have spines. Not like porcupine needles or anything, but small pointy projections on the surface that basically make the organ bumpy.

    Gill Bejerano, a biologist at Stanford University School of Medicine, and colleagues wanted to further investigate why humans and chimpanzees have such differences. They analyzed the genomes of humans and closely related primates and discovered more than 500 regulatory regions -- sequences in the genome responsible for controlling genes -- that chimpanzees and other mammals have, but humans do not. In other words, they are making a list of DNA that has been lost from the human genome during millions of years of evolution. Results from their study are published in the journal Nature.

    Think of it like light bulbs and their switches, where the light bulbs are genes and the switches are these controlling DNA sequences. If there's no bulb, the switch can't turn the light on. Now imagine there's one bulb and five switches to turn it on at different times in different places. If you take one of the switches away, the bulb still works in the four other contexts, but not in the fifth.

    This study looks at two particular switches. Bejerano and colleagues took the switch information from a chimpanzee's genome and essentially "hooked it up" to a reporter gene, a gene whose effects scientists can track as an organism develops. They injected the reporter gene in a mouse egg to see what the switch would do.

    They found that in one case, a switch that had been lost in humans normally turns on an androgen receptor at the sites where sensory whiskers develop on the face and spines develop on the penis. Mice and many other animals have both of these characteristics, and humans do not.

    "This switch controls the expression of a key gene that's required for the formation of these structures," said David Kingsley, a study co-author at Stanford University. "If you kill that gene -- smash the lightbulb -- which has been done previously in mouse genetics, the whiskers don't grow as much and the penile spines fail to form at all."

    Humans have kept the "light bulb," however -- we have androgen receptors, but ours don't produce whiskers or penile spines, he said. Chimpanzees do have small sensory whiskers, not as externally obvious as in cats or mice, but we don't have them at all.

    To sum up: Humans lack a switch in the genome that would "turn on" penile spines and sensory whiskers. But our primate relatives, such as chimpanzees, have the switch, and that's why they differ from us in these two ways.

    And humans are somewhat exceptional in this regard -- a lot of male primates have bumpy penises; mice, which are rodents, have them, too.

    The basic idea of natural selection is that over many generations, an animal species loses some traits that do not contribute to survival or reproduction, or are disadvantageous, and develops features that do. In humans, this process takes place over hundreds of thousands to millions of years. So, there must be a good reason that the guys you know look different.

    In fact, speculation abounds about what purpose the spines serve. One theory is that they are used in sperm competition; if the male's goal is to get his mate pregnant, he will want to take out her previous partner's sperm if she's recently had sex. The bumpy penis may be better for removing that sperm from the female, scientists theorize.

    There's probably less debate about why humans reap benefits from having larger brains than chimpanzees, Kingsley said.

    The other "switch" examined in this study probably has to do with the expansion of brain regions in humans. Kingsley and colleagues believe they have found a place in their genome comparisons where the loss of DNA in humans may have contributed to the gain of neurons in the brain. That is to say, when humans evolved without a particular switch, the absence of that switch allowed the brain to grow further.

    The earliest human ancestors probably had sensory whiskers, penile spines and small brains, Kingsley said. Evolutionary events to remove the whiskers and spines and enlarge the brain probably took place after humans and chimpanzees split apart as separate species (Some 5 million to 7 million years ago), but before Neanderthals and humans diverged (about 600,000 years ago), Kingsley said

    We know that Neanderthals had big brains like ours. They probably didn't have penile spines, either. There are traces of the Neanderthal genome in humans today, meaning Neanderthals and humans probably mated.

    "The fact that Neanderthals were also missing penile spines is at least consistent with the idea that the mating structures of Neanderthals and modern humans were compatible enough that some interbreeding occurred," Kingsley said.
    "Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack.” -- Gen. George S. Patton

  2. #2
    carpe damn diem billy007's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by voivod View Post
    In fact, speculation abounds about what purpose the spines serve. One theory is that they are used in sperm competition; if the male's goal is to get his mate pregnant, he will want to take out her previous partner's sperm if she's recently had sex. The bumpy penis may be better for removing that sperm from the female, scientists theorize.
    Maybe they're just ribbed...for her pleasure!

  3. #3
    Atomic Punk sixstring's Avatar
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    MINE still has it's 'spines'...LOL...
    Last edited by sixstring; 03.09.11 at 12:22 PM.
    [SIGPIC][/SIGPIC]


    "20 minutes (late to work)? Shit. Last year I woke up three weeks too late.
    My advice is to go for the alien abduction story. Look bemused, dishevelled and on the verge of tears as you recount your story of intrusive and degrading medical tests.
    Worked for me anyway. I still have colleagues asking me what it is like to fuck a green womanoid with seventeen breasts.
    Alternatively just walk in and inform everyone that alcoholism is indeed a disease and that they should be less judgemental and perhaps a little more supportive."
    - graeme on the addiction to this place.

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  4. #4
    Atomic Punk LLFHS's Avatar
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    Mine has a helmet.
    LowLifeFlatHeadScum

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    Your Hacked Nude Photo Here!

  5. #5
    Baluchitherium
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    Penis is an anagram of spine.

    Enjoy.
    Posted from yo' mama's house.


  6. #6
    Atomic Punk LLFHS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VegasVic View Post
    Penis is an anagram of spine.

    Enjoy.
    Dick is short for Richard.

    Celebrate.
    LowLifeFlatHeadScum

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  7. #7
    ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ ○ Number 47's Avatar
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    confounded bumpy penis whiskers.

  8. #8
    Baluchitherium Mikey Metalhead's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by billy007 View Post
    Maybe they're just ribbed...for her pleasure!
    I will take this as the abridged version, as that was too long for an old man to read without falling asleep
    I SURVIVED TEXAS LINKERS WEEKEND I, II, III, IV and VI and VII.barely made it to VIII time to slow down
    I musta had a broken middle finger for V
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  9. #9
    5150 adamvhcornell's Avatar
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by LLFHS View Post
    Mine has a helmet.
    cool, but can it do anything about the fuckin gas prices??

  10. #10
    Atomic Punk LLFHS's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by adamvhcornell View Post
    cool, but can it do anything about the fuckin gas prices??
    I suppose it theoretically could.


    I could roll up to a gas station or two a day, conspicously insert said appendage into each and every gas pump in full view of the public. Once this is observed by enough people (and relying on the viral spread of information - youtube and what not) there is less consumption of gas in a cascade effect with each station I deflower.

    As demand for gas falls just out of sheer weirded-outness, we see a fall in prices.
    LowLifeFlatHeadScum

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  11. #11
    Atomic Punk
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    a bunch of spineless dicks!
    "Watch what people are cynical about, and one can often discover what they lack.” -- Gen. George S. Patton

  12. #12
    Good Enough The J Man's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by voivod View Post
    a bunch of spineless dicks!
    Winner.

  13. #13
    Baluchitherium
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    @ voivod

    "The shit I read on this site." -- Dave's Dreidel (Nov 6th, 2013)

    "Don't ever confuse talent with fame." -- Bob Lefsetz

    "There's very little greatness in this world, but in the crucible of quality there's a special corner reserved for Van Halen." -- Bob Lefsetz

  14. #14
    Good Enough
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    If mine doesn't have a spine, my chiropractor has a LOT of explaining to do.

  15. #15
    Future's in the past....
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    Somewhere along the line, I'm sure we were negotiated out of it by women...
    11/05/78 Hollywood Sportatorium
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