Males snakes pursue same sex with high estrogenFebruary 12th, 2012 - 6:27 pm ICT by IANS
Washington, Feb 12 (IANS) High estrogen levels could unwittingly wreck one’s sexuality and love life — so beware.
Male snakes implanted with a small capsule that raised their estrogen level to about that of female snakes exuded a pheromone after a year that attracted other males in droves to mate with them.
“The amount of estrogen the male snakes received was just about what a normal female would produce. And this was not just some laboratory test,” said Robert Mason, professor of zoology at Oregon State University, one of the world’s leading experts on reptilian pheromones.
“These snakes were trying to mate in a natural outdoor environment, in which the males were absolutely sure they had identified a female snake,” added Mason, who led the study, the Journal of Experimental Biology reports.
And just as the pheromone production could be stimulated, it could be taken away, the scientists found. When estrogen supplementation was removed for a year, the males reverted to normal function and behaviour, according to Oregon statement.
“We thought this might work, but we we’re surprised the results were so compelling,” said Mason. This experiment in the famed garter snake caverns of Manitoba, Canada, was one of the first in a field setting to ever quantify the effects of estrogen as a stimulant of pheromones, scientists said.
This estrogen, researchers said, is the same exact chemical found in many animal species, ranging from snakes to amphibians, fish, mammals and humans.
The red-sided garter snake depends totally upon pheromones for males to be attracted to and identify female snakes, by actually licking the female with a quick flick of their tongue.
But the chemical cues are so extraordinary that in an instant, from one lick, the male can determine the species, sex, population, season, reproductive condition, size and age of its possible partner.
The research once again confirms the unusually powerful role that estrogen can play in biology, and is also relevant to widespread concern about the environmental impact of compounds that mimic the effect of estrogen, found in some chemicals and pesticides.
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Tags: animal species, caverns, chemical cues, droves, estrogen supplementation, garter snake, high estrogen levels, journal of experimental biology, laboratory test, love life, mammals, manitoba canada, natural outdoor environment, oregon state university, pheromone, pheromones, robert mason, snakes, stimulant, zoology