Sex with beer bottles Down Under...

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Jeffrey Sutter

Sep 15, 2005, 10:05:24 PM9/15/05

Certain Australian males are physically attracted to a particular type of
beer bottle. An experiment in Western Australia has demonstrated that beer
bottles known Down Under as stubbies get reused in an unanticipated way.

Stubbies are squat little bottles, 370ml in capacity. A study published in
1983 begins with the statement: "Male julodimorpha bakewelli (white) were
observed attempting to copulate with beer bottles."

Julodimorpha bakewelli (white) are beetles. Before 1983, few people were
aware that the beetles were having their way with the stubbies. It is still
not common knowledge.

Daryll Gwynn, then of the University of Western Australia (he has since
moved to the University of Toronto) and David Rentz, of the Commonwealth
Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Canberra, tried
to alert the world. They published two reports filled with graphic but
delightful technical detail.

"On two occasions, a flying male was observed to descend to a stubbie and
attempt to copulate. A search was made for other stubbies in the area and
two others, with associated beetles, were located. The males were either at
the side or mounted on top of the bottle, with genitalia everted [turned
out] and attempting to insert the aedeagus [reproductive organ]. Only one
stubbie without a beetle was located. A short experiment was conducted in
which four stubbies were placed on the ground in an open area."

The experiment was a success. The beetles loved the bottles. Gwynn and
Rentz later tried to prise them off, but found this not easy to do. One
beetle, they observed, was so attached to its bottle that it stayed
faithful despite being attacked and gnawed by ants. Gwynn and Rentz
witnessed two deaths.

The scientists developed a theory that explains the nature of the seemingly
unnatural attraction: "It was apparent that it wasn't any remaining
contents in the stubbies that attracted the beetles; not only do Western
Australians never dispose of a bottle with beer still in it, but many of
the bottles had sand and detritus accumulated over many months ... The
brown glass of the stubbies bore a resemblance to the coloration of the
beetle; in addition, the rows of regularly spaced tubercules [rounded
protruberances] on the top and bottom of the bottle reflected the light in
a similar way to the pits on the elytra [wing case] of the beetle."

Gwynn and Rentz issued a warning to their fellow citizens: "Improperly
disposed-of beer bottles not only present a physical and visual hazard in
the environment, but also could potentially cause great interference with
the mating system of a beetle species."

south bend, indiana
father to maia, b. 7/9/95, who says "I'm so glad to be me, dad."

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