Probably the only people who wonder about New Zealand mud snails also wonder why some duck penises are in the shape of a corkscrew. And our federal government is funding them both.
According to CNSnews, the National Science Foundation awarded the University of Iowa a grant for $876,752 to study whether there is any benefit to sex among New Zealand mud snails and whether that explains why any organism has sex. The abstract of the study reads:
Intellectual Merit: Sexual reproduction is more costly than asexual reproduction, yet nearly all organisms reproduce sexually at least some of the time. Why is sexual reproduction so common despite its costs? Are there significant evolutionary consequences of asexual reproduction? What are the effects of sexual reproduction or its absence on the evolution of genes and genomes? Despite decades of study, these and related questions remain unanswered.
I have a better question: With the American economy about to collapse under the weight of our federal debt, why is our government spending close to a million dollars studying snail sex? (Yes, snail sex!)
The CNS writer, Matt Cover, searches in vain for an answer:
Perhaps the study is so costly because they need to first purchase tiny little bottles of beer for the tiny snails.
The study, first funded in 2011 and continuing until 2015, will study the New Zealand snails to see if it is better that they reproduce sexually or asexually – the snail can do both – hoping to gain insight on why so many organisms practice sexual reproduction.
“This project will use a different organism, Potamopyrgus antipodarum, a New Zealand snail, which has both sexual and independently-derived asexual lineages that make it ideally suited to address fundamental evolutionary questions of how genes and genomes evolve in the absence of sexual reproduction.”
In other words, the study seeks to see if there are genetic advantages to sexual reproduction that justify its evolutionary costs, advantages such as avoiding genetic mutations or gene loss.
So far, the grant has paid out $502,357, according to NSF, and could pay out the full $880,000 between now and 2015. The study is funded through what NSF calls a continuing grant meaning that it agrees with the researcher to fund a certain amount, but can end up spending more on the grant if NSF agrees that more money is warranted.
Are there idiots running this country or is there someone awarding grants who has an animal fetish? Our national debt is approaching $17 trillion dollars and we are researching SNAIL SEX and DUCK PENISES.
I am sure that it is worthy scientific research, but why the heck are we paying for it with tax dollars in these hard times?
We are wasting taxpayer dollars on researching the sex lives of animals but at the same time we are eliminating White House tours, closing small airports, and releasing criminal illegal immigrants back onto the streets because of the sequester. What am I missing?
In the end the only ones getting screwed is the American taxpayer.