Weird Science Weekly: Science knows why women want to eat babies

Scott Sutherland

Weird science happens every day, all around us. This week, we have four of the weirdest examples, including such stories as women who want to eat babies, the sad passing of a man that went by the name Papa Smurf, and a strange fish with a rather nasty reputation invading northern waters...

Science knows why women want to eat babies...

If your first guess is 'because they're zombies', you might be disappointed. Researchers have, however, been looking into why so-called "pretend baby-eating" is a fairly common reaction when people are confronted with an adorable infant. I have to admit, the idea made me raise an eyebrow at first, but the phrase "You're so cute, I could just eat you up!" is not unheard of, even to me. So what's behind the urge to nom on Junior?

The scientists imaged the brains of women exposed to the scent of pajamas from newborns and found that a whiff of new baby smell made the brain's reward circuitry light up —particularly in women who were mothers themselves. A researcher at the University of Montreal who was involved in the study compared the response to the satisfaction of eating when you're really hungry, or an addict getting his or her drug of choice. "Not all odours trigger this reaction," said Johannes Frasnelli, the University of Montreal researcher who led the study. "Only those associated with reward, such as food or satisfying a desire, cause this activation."

It's worth noting they didn't test whether the response was something that gets programmed along with pregnancy, or if it's based on the experience of being around a child, nor did they test men. Or zombies.

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The blue man has passed

Paul Karason, also known as Papa Smurf thanks to his exposure to colloidal silver some years ago, has passed away at the age of 62 after suffering complications after a heart attack.

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'Testicle-eating' fish invades New Jersey waters

The pacu is a tropical fish that has found itself far from home in recent years, but its travel habits aren't what's really making the headlines for this relative of the Piranha.

The rather large, human-like teeth of this fish, along with what was apparently an ill-timed joke, has given this fish a rather strange, but undeserving reputation as having a taste for human testicles. The pacu is actually a vegetarian, but it uses the teeth to break apart its favourite food — tree nuts.

"The nuts that they're eating, the fruits that they're eating, are splashing down from above, and humans don't act like that when they're swimming," William Fink, a piranha researcher at the University of Michigan, told CNN last month.

Maybe give that your next 'cannonball' into the lake a second thought, though. Just in case.

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Keep your eyes on the wonders of science, and if you spot anything particularly strange you'd like me to check out for next week, comment below or drop me a line on Twitter!

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