Spring has sprung, and that means that flowers, hay fever and romance are all in full bloom. This spring also means that the headlines of the past few days have been replete with stories about the science of love, starting with the fact that the most romantic of notions, love at first sight, may have a genetic basis. According to a study at Cornell University, female fruit flies are genetically primed to know which potential mates are more genetically compatible, and respond better to courtship from males that are more likely to produce healthy offspring. Not only can the flies seemingly sense which males would make better partners, they produce more offspring from these couplings than when they breed with less preferred males.

Scientists at Cornell aren’t the only ones closely examining the intimate moments of drosophilia this week. Researchers at Oxford University took a look at the darker side of fruit fly romance, discovering that, when faced with rivals for a females attention, male fruit flies can release chemicals that make females less sexually active. While certainly not as awww-inducing as a genetic basis for love at first sight, this ‘If I can’t have her, no one can,’ brand of courtship provides at least as much insight into the evolution of sexual behavior.

The evolutionary basis for the dinner date  may have gotten some clarification this week too, as researchers looked more closely at the exchange of meat for sex among groups of chimpanzees. While it has been long known that male chimps traded meat to sexually receptive females for sexual favors, the seemingly altruistic habit of also giving meat to females who are not receptive has been less well understood. According to researchers from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, charity is, unsurprisingly, not at work here. It turns out the chimps are simply paying it forward, with males who share the spoils of their hunts being favored by females long after the gift of food had been made. Still unclear, however, is just where the entertainment portion of the traditional date is hiding in our genetic structure.

One thing that has been found tucked away in the human genome is CATSPER1, a genetic abnormality that University of Iowa researchers think is responsible for some cases of male infertility. While understanding this abnormality could help scientists treat some forms of male infertility, the more groundbreaking notion is that a little tinkering with CATSPER1 could open the door to the development of the safe and effective male contraceptive that has so far eluded modern medicine in the 4 decades following the introduction of female birth control.

And finally, from the BBC’s science department comes this news: blowjobs are out, but heavy petting is in. Take whatever you want from that.

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