Researchers Discover that Insomniac Birds Are the Sexiest Birds


Sleep, in case you don’t get a lot of it and instead rely on the sadist you innocently call “caffeine,” is really important and losing only a few hours of it each night can adversely affect most animals’ ability to perform waking functions, like remembering to refill a subway card before swiping it so you don’t hold up a line of angry commuters or running away from a pride of lions that just appeared out of the tall grass. For at least one animal, however, forgoing sleep seems to provide a distinct reproductive advantage. After many voyeuristic hours spent observing the mating habits of pectoral sandpipers in Alaska, researchers from Germany and Switzerland have discovered that male sandpipers that sleep less mate more often and sire more chicks.

Because pectoral sandpipers migrate long distances between the Northern and Southern hemispheres, researchers were surprised that the nearly sleepless male sandpipers could forgo so much sleep during the May through June mating and nesting period in Alaska and still make the trip south at the end of the season. During those early summer months, the area in Alaska where the sandpipers bivouac (I cannot tell you how tickled I am to use that word even semi-appropriately) gets almost 24 hours of sunlight, which allow scientists to gain some new insight into the the sleepless mating habits of the earthbound sandpiper.

After analyzing the brain activity recordings of the sandpipers and finding that some males were extremely active during the whole day, researchers collected every egg at the study site, incubated and hatched them, and tested the paternity of each chick. Sure enough, the most active males — those that stayed awake almost 95 percent of each 24-hour cycle — sired the most chicks.

Sleep deficits tend cause all sorts of animals to fuck up more easily, but the sandpipers could carry out their entire furious mating itineraries, fly south, and return to the original nesting site without displaying any adverse affects from their lack of sleep, a fact that prompted all the scientists involved with the study to smirk, cock their heads, and softly let forth a mystified, “Huh” at nature’s many miracles.

Sleep deprived birds have more chicks [BBC]

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