Today's award goes to this mind-boggling example of your tax dollars at work (NOT!).
The National Science Foundation (NSF) is giving an assistant professor nearly $20,000 to write a dissertation on the mating habits of Syrian hamsters.
. . .
Young adult female Syrian hamsters will be injected with 4-vinylcyclohexene diepoxide (VCD), which makes their ovaries age faster, to see the drug’s effect on hamsters’ sexual preferences. Female hamsters usually prefer a “dominant” male, the grant said.
“VCD-treated females will be given an opportunity to choose between a dominant and subordinate male hamster, and their preferences will be compared to vehicle-injected females,” the grant said. “Young females typically choose the dominant male in this situation. If the preference for dominant male hamsters by young VCD-treated females is reduced relative to controls, then this result will emphasize the importance of reproductive quality, independent of chronological age, in explaining the individual variation in female mate choice.”
Videos of the hamsters mating will be publicly available “indefinitely” through Cornell University.
. . .
Place has also studied the “erect clitoris” of the female spotted hyena, which is the “most highly masculinized female mammal known.”
There's more at the link.
A few questions for the NSF:
- Why Syrian hamsters? Aren't there enough of the red, white and blue variety within our own shores for this experiment? Or is it something in the Middle Eastern water?
- Who the hell wants to watch videos - "indefinitely" - of foreign hamsters mating? Is this going to be a special subsection on YouTube or something?
- Who cares whether the female hyena is "the most highly masculinized female mammal known", or whether she has an "erect clitoris" or not? She's going to bite your face off anyway if you get close enough! (I speak as an old African hand, of course. I know hyenas - not, I hasten to add, in any way, shape or form related to their clitorii - and I don't like them.)
Sheesh . . .