Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Down Low


Here's another story for the guys. Because, you know you've wondered about it.

An older (2008), but still noteworthy study examined the question "Why do the testes hang at different levels?" Ok so actually the title of the paper was Swinging high and low: Why do the testes hang at different levels? A theory on surface area and thermoregulation, which, you gotta admit, is a pretty great title.

I normally give a little background at the beginning of an article but here's hoping I won't have to. The basics? Guys, you have 2. They can either be symmetrical/equal, right high, or left high. This paper addresses - why the unevenness? Could it be due to development, evolution, or vascularization? Maybe. But the authors here (Kumar and Kumara) suggest it has to do with temperature.

Now we've all heard the "Well, its cold out here!" (or in a pool, ocean, etc) line in relation to "shrinkage." And we've known for a long time that the reason they are outside to begin with is not just to show off, get in the way, or for public adjustment purposes. Rather it is because sperm development is temperature sensitive.

Sure, that explains the overall location but the fact that one is lower than the other...mweh. However, the authors are still suggesting that temperature is the reason. If they are equal then more of their medial surface is in contact with each other and the more heat there is. On the other hand (or ball, as it were), if one is lower there is less surface area in contact and more area exposed to the cooler, and I'm arguing more refreshing, air. In otherwords, its the Goldilocks Hypothesis - not too hot, not too cold - for the doodleberries. You get the idea.

Now, keep in mind that this was published in the journal Medical Hypotheses and so none of this stuff has actually been tested (to my knowledge at least). However, when hypothetical becomes experimental expect commentary, especially on the materials and methods section. Although, explaining it past just the temperature hypothesis into an evolutionary one would also be interesting.

Article on PubMed: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17693038

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