Anatomy Research Review

The following is an article from The Annals of Improbable Research, now in all-pdf form. Get a subscription now for only $25 a year!

Some studious looks at bodies and/or parts
Compiled by Nan Swift, Improbable Research staff

Dwarfs the Rat
“The Anatomy of the World’s Largest Extinct Rodent,” Science, Marcelo R. Sánchez-Villagra et al., vol. 301, no. 5460, September 19, 2003, pp. 1708–10. (Thanks to Kristine Danowski for bringing this to our attention.) The authors report that:

Reliable body mass estimates yield 700 kilograms, more than 10 times the mass of the largest living rodent, the capybara.

Cheap Trauma: Bedbug Organs
“Reducing a Cost of Traumatic Insemination: Female Bedbugs Evolve a Unique Organ,” K. Reinhardt, R. Naylor and M.T. Siva-Jothy, Proceedings: Biological Sciences, vol. 270, no. 1531, pp. 2371–5. The authors report that:

The frequent wounding of female bedbugs (Cimex lectularius: Cimicidae) during copulation has been shown to decrease their fitness, but how females have responded to this cost in evolutionary terms is unclear. The evolution of a unique anatomical structure found in female bedbugs, the spermalege, into which the male’s intromittent organ passes during traumatic insemination, is a possible counteradaptation to harmful male traits. Several functions have been proposed for this organ, and we test two hypotheses related to its role in sexual conflict. ... Our results support the ‘defence against pathogens’ hypothesis, suggesting that the evolution of this unique cimicid organ resulted, at least partly, from selection to reduce the costs of mating-associated infection. We found no evidence that the spermalege reduces the costs of wound healing.

New, Simple Method
“A New Method for Determining Bra Size and Predicting Postaugmentation Breast Size,” E.A. Pechter, Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery, vol. 102, no. 4, September 1998, pp. 1259–65. The authors, who are at the University of California, Los Angeles, report that:

The current popular system of determining bra size is inaccurate so often as to be useless. Add to this the many different styles of bras and the lack of standardization between brands, and one can see why finding a comfortable, well-fitting bra is more a matter of educated guesswork, trial, and error than of precise measurements. An improved method of determining cup size by directly measuring the circumference of the breast is presented in this paper. If adopted commercially, this simple method could reduce dramatically the number of women said to be wearing the “wrong-sized bra.” 

Newer, Simpler Method
“A Simple Method for Determining the Breast Implant Size in Augmentation Mammaplasty,” D.D. Dionyssiou, E.C. Demiri and J.A. Davison, Aesthetic Plastic Surgery, vol. 29, no. 6, November–December 2005, pp. 571–3. (Thanks to Bob O’Hara for bringing this to our attention.) The authors, who are variously in Thessaloniki, Greece and East Grinstead, U.K., explain that:

The authors describe a modified method for determining the size of implants in augmentation mammaplasty. Preoperatively, 35 women filled their brassieres with rice bags and expressed their opinion and wishes. Postoperatively, all of them were satisfied with their new breasts.

Belly Genetics
“The Genetics of Middle-Age Spread in Middle-Class Males,” James C. Romeis, Julia D. Grant, Valerie S. Knopik, Nancy L. Pedersen and Andrew C. Heath, Twin Research, vol. 7, no. 6, December 2004, pp. 596–602.

No Mere Foot
“Pseudomamma on the Foot: An Unusual Presentation of Supernumerary Breast Tissue,” Délio Marques Conde, Eiji Kashimoto, Renato Zocchio Torresan and Marcelo Alvarenga, Dermatology Online Journal, vol. 12, no. 4, 2006, p. 7. The authors explain that:

A 22-year-old woman sought medical care for a lesion in the plantar region of her left foot, a well-formed nipple surrounded by areola and hair. Microscopic examination of the dermis showed hair follicles, eccrine glands, and sebaceous glands. Fat tissue was noted at the base of the lesion. Clinical and histopathologic findings were consistent with the diagnosis of supernumerary breast tissue, also known as pseudomamma. To our knowledge, this is the first report of supernumerary breast tissue on the foot.


This article is republished with permission from the September-October 2006 issue of the Annals of Improbable Research.

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