Researchers Fly Away with Goofy Prize for Bat-Sex Study

Author: John Egan
Published: September 30, 2010 at 9:24 pm

A prize handed out Sept. 30 for a study on oral sex is downright batty.

A team of researchers from China and Britain took home the 2010 Ig Nobel Prize for biology in honor of their scientific documentation of fellatio among fruit bats. The bat-sex study was among 10 prize winners announced at a rather tongue-in-cheek ceremony at Harvard University.

No, this is not an Onion-style article. Seven researchers from China and one researcher from Britain really did undertake a study of bat sex—and really did win an Ig Nobel Prize, a humorous, irreverent nod to the much more staid and serious Nobel Prize.

Fruit bat“Oral sex is widely used in human foreplay,” the bat-sex researchers wrote, “but rarely documented in other animals.”

The Ig Nobel program, sponsored by the science comedy magazine Annals of Improbable Research along with a handful of student organizations at Harvard, is designed to “make people laugh, and then make them think.”

As described on the website of the Ig Nobels, “The prizes are intended to celebrate the unusual, honor the imaginative—and spur people’s interest in science, medicine and technology.”

Undoubtedly, the Ig Nobel honor has spurred plenty of prurient interest in the sex lives of bats. So let’s head to the fellatio study itself for more details.

The study, published last year, was conducted during three months in 2007—January, November and December—in the Guangdong Province of southern China.

“We observed that females were not passive during copulation but performed oral sex, licking their mate’s penis during copulation,” the researchers wrote.

The study involved 30 male and 30 female bats captured at Yuexiu Park. The voyeuristic researchers noted that 20 “successful copulations,” all caught on video, were seen among the 30 pairs of bats. Each hookup—my word, not theirs—occurred between a different pair of bats.

Wow, that sounds like some kind of sex-crazed soap opera. Yet other parts of the study read like a torrid paperback romance novel...

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Article Author: John Egan

A resident of Austin since 1999, John Egan has 25 years of experience in journalism, communications and public relations. From 1999 to 2006, he was editor and managing editor of the Austin Business Journal. John's business blog, called AustInnovation, is at …

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