MHC-assortative facial preferences in humans by Dr SC Roberts, Dr AC Little, Professor L Gosling, Mr BC Jones, Professor DI Perrett, Mr V Carter and Professor M Petrie
As choosing a genetically dissimilar mate is possible using smell, we tested whether faces display the same information. We asked women to rate attractiveness of male photographs (some genetically similar, some dissimilar). To our surprise, genetically similar faces were rated more attractive, especially when we compared scores given to particular male faces by genetically similar or dissimilar women. Although unexpected, this like-prefers-like (assortative) preference is consistent with other human mate preference studies. It suggests, for the first time, that immune (MHC) genes are linked to visible (facial) traits and that smell and face information are integrated to choose the optimal mate.
Contact: Dr S. Craig Roberts, School of Biological Sciences, University of Liverpool, Biosciences Building, LIVERPOOL, L69 7ZB, United Kingdom
Migrating locusts can detect polarized reflections to avoid flying over the sea by Dr. N Shashar, Mr S Sabbah and Ms N Aharoni
Locust (Schistocerca gregaria) migration are well known and often feared over Africa, the Middle East and the south of Europe. Though the swarms are generally dispersed with the wind, the insects do have partial control over the direction towards which they fly. For example, on occasion, they may avoid flying over the sea. Behavioral experiments showed that the animals use their sensitivity to polarized light (a quality of light largely unseen by humans) and avoid surfaces that reflect strong linear polarization. Indeed, sea surfaces can serve as such polarization reflectors and therefore deter locust swarms from crossing them at low flight.
Contact: Dr Nadav Shashar, University of Maryland Baltimore County, Department of Biological Sciences, Baltimore MD 21228, USA