Fruit flies like to have sex and, in some ways, they’re very similar to us. How do we know this? Because scientists studied their mating rituals, and noticed different responses when flies were able to ejaculate and when they weren’t. Flies have a lot of personality.
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According to the New Yorker, a study from Israel demonstrates that pleasure in sex is important for evolution, and is present on many different species, including fruit flies, which are a pretty basic organism.
The experiment they conducted was pretty complex. For starters, scientists basically robocopped several fruit flies so they could achieve their goal, which was to control the production of the flies’ corozonin (the protein responsible for ejaculation). Scientists prompted the production of this protein by activating a red light, which triggered the flies’ sexual behavior.
After the flies were trained, they were put with a control group of normal flies in an enclosure that had a side that was lit up red. After a few seconds, the engineered flies were all hanging around the red light district, jerking off, surprising no one.
The scientists then tried different things, like associating the flies’ aroused state with a color and monitoring their alcohol intake. From these results, scientists gathered that flies always prefer the color that reminds them of sex, and that they also drink more alcohol if they’re celibate.
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Turning to alcohol when there’s no sex is something that flies have in common with a lot of mammals, who look for other types of rewards when sexual pleasure is denied. This is surely the strangest and most torturous experiment ever conducted on flies.