Sex is Worth Risking Starvation For, if You're a Worm Man

By Aatif Sulleyman on at

If you could go through your entire life without ever eating or sexing someone all the way to Pleasure Island, would you? They’re two of the most important, enjoyable and frustrating things in life, with many of us indulging in far too much of one and nowhere near enough of the other (not speaking from personal experience, honest).

Scientists from UCL and the Albert Einstein College of Medicine have managed to put a finger on what’s most important and, somewhat surprisingly, sex comes out on top. If you happen to be a male worm, anyway. They figured out that guy worms prioritise the old in-n-out over scran, even braving starvation if it meant getting a bit of action.

It all comes down to a pair of neurons, currently known as ‘mystery cells of the male' (MCMs). They’ve only just been discovered in sexually mature male caenorhabditis elegans worms, and it turns out that they fill them with desire. After conditioning the worms to associate salt with starvation, the researchers created a salty hell-hole filled with squirmy, wormy eye-candy. Sexually mature males were then invited to the party and they jumped straight in, regardless of the salt. Meanwhile, a separate group of males, which had had their MCMs removed during development, decided against braving the salt for the sake of a night on the pull.

“Only in C. elegans, at the moment, is it possible to identify every synapse in a neural circuit in the way we have done here," said professor Scott Emmons, who co-authored the research. "Though the work is carried out in a small worm, it nevertheless gives us a perspective that helps us appreciate and possibly understand the variety of human sexuality, sexual orientation, and gender identification.”

You can sense the desperation a mile off.

Image credit: Andy Peters via Flickr