Gender Trivia

Page Contents:

Adam’s Apple (Eve’s Apple?)

Why do men have Adam’s apples?

In asking this question, most people aren’t interested in what the function of the Adam’s apple is, just why men have them and women don’t. Unfortunately, the answer to that isn’t very interesting: women do have Adam’s apples, they’re just usually smaller than men’s and tend to be hidden by fat in the neck.

So what is its purpose?

Now that we’ve established the Adam’s apple as an equal opportunity body part, we can explore why it’s there in the first place. Officially known as the “thyroid cartilage,” the plates of the Adam’s apple make up the front and side walls of the larynx. The rigid structure of the Adam’s apple helps to support and protect the delicate vocal chords that lay inside the larynx. It’s men’s longer vocal chords that give them larger Adam’s apples and deeper voices.

How did the Adam’s apple get its name?

The Adam’s apple gets its name from a legend that said that part of the forbidden fruit became stuck in Adam’s throat.

Ambisexual Oysters

The oyster is usually ambisexual. It begins life as a male, then becomes a female, then changes back to being a male, then back to being female; it may go back and forth many times.

Blonde vs. Blond

The word “Blonde” is the word for a female with yellow hair, and “blond” is the word for a male with the same color hair.

[Hmmmm… Would that make a “redhead” a “redhe” or a “brunette” a “brunet” ?]

Blue vs. Pink

To prevent evil spirits from entering the bodies of their male children, parents dressed them in blue. Blue was chosen because it’s the color of the sky and was therefore associated with heavenly spirits.

Girls weren’t dressed in blue, apparently because people didn’t think that evil spirits would bother with them. Eventually, however, girls did get their own color: pink. Pink was chosen because of an old English legend which said that girls were born inside of pink roses.

Gender Gene Score

Females have 500 more genes than males, and because of this are protected from things like color blindness and hemophilia.

Lactating Male

There exists a mammal in which the male lactates. What is it?

The lactating males are Dayak fruit bats (Dyacopterus spadiceus), a little-known, small flying fox of Malaysia and Borneo. They produce only about 10% as much milk as their female counterparts; the lactation may be due to the phytoestrogens in their all-vegetarian diet. According to science writer Jared Diamond in his excellent book “Why Is Sex Fun?,” a very small percentage of human males also lactates, but usually only after suffering damage to various hormone-producing organs.

Shirt Buttons

Men’s shirts have the buttons on the right, but women’s blouses have the buttons on the left. This is more than just a way to tell whether a shirt is for men or women. There is a historical reason for it.

During the Victorian period, buttons were quite expensive, and were mostly worn by rich people. Since proper, well-to-do ladies were dressed by their servants, and most people are right-handed, their buttons were placed on the servant’s right, which is the wearer’s left side. However, most gentlemen dressed themselves, so their buttons were placed on the wearer’s right side.

Those who could not afford servants copied the style of the wealthy, and women’s buttons thereafter remained on the left.

Transvestite Snakes

Transvestite snakes may seduce unsuspecting males in order to sap their competitors’ energy – allowing them to get it on with the real females at their leisure.

The idea follows the study of male garter snakes, some of which fool other males into mating with them by secreting female chemicals from their skin. The reason for this strange behavior has been a mystery since its discovery 15 years ago. But now Rick Shine, an evolutionary biologist from the University of Sydney, and his colleagues from Oregon State University, Corvallis, think they have worked out the evolutionary strategy behind this twisted twisting act of Nature.

The team observed red-sided garter snakes (Thamnophis sirtalis parietalis) in Manitoba, Canada, which had recently emerged from hibernation. The snakes formed “mating balls,” where several suitors competed for one female. But over a quarter of the mating balls were actually centered on a “she-male.” When the researchers studied these impostors, they found that they were fatter than their male counterparts and crawled more slowly. Their courtship behavior was suppressed and they were less likely to couple with females. “Males that produced female skin lipids became female in behavior as well as attractiveness,” says Shine.

To check that the snakes were not getting their hormonal disguise from contact with females, the researchers rubbed males against females. Males treated in this way failed to excite other males. However, when they removed the snakes’ male pheromones by washing them with a solvent and adding female lipids, the snakes became attractive to males. These “artificial” she-males also lost interest in sex.

But to the researchers’ surprise, when these she-males were captured and tested a day later, they had become the most vigorous suitors of all. At the same time their attractiveness to males had decreased.

The situation seemed inexplicable, until Shine realized that the hormonal “crossdressing” was a temporary phase that all males went through upon awakening from hibernation. Shine and his colleagues suggest that she-maleness suppresses the snakes’ urge to court females while they are still weak from hibernation, preventing them from wasting valuable energy on courting when they are likely to fail. Masquerading as females also confuses other males, distracting them from true females.

“We call this kind of behavior spite,” says Morris Gosling, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Newcastle. “The she-males diminish the costs of courtship at the same time as duping other males.”

Hah! And you thought this behavior only applied to humans…

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