The Loh Down On Science

Fly on the Wall

Being dumb has its own rewards - at least if you're a fly.

What WOULD harm a fly? A little learning!

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science

and with news that literally FLIES in the face of conventional evolutionary WISDOM.

Fruit flies normally lay their eggs on an orange jelly. Tadeusz Kawecki and Joep Burger at Switzerland's University of Lausanne laced this jelly with the drug Quinine. Tastes BAD. No dummies, the flies adapted--laying their eggs on non-offensive pineapple jelly.

And THESE flies, the researches found, had superior memories.

The researchers bred these braniac flies for another thirty to forty generations, then put the new breed of super-smart flies to the test .

Result?

The smarties LEARNED better than average non-trained flies.

HOWEVER, they also died sooner--their lifespans shortened by about fifteen percent.

Why? As the flies use more energy to create new neural connections and build brain power, they're pulling resources from valuable life-support systems.

Kawecki and Burger hope the research will shed light on possible evolutionary costs of human learning.

And in the meantime, it just MAY be better to be a simple. . . fly on the wall after all.


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