Let’s imagine for a moment that you haven’t eaten in days. Your stomach is growling, you’re shaky, and everything you see looks like a giant hamburger. Now, given the choice between a warm meal and steamy sexcapade, which one would you choose? The food, right? After all, if you don’t eat, you don’t live.
Well, according to a new study published in the journal Nature, men are genetically wired to opt for sex—and then potentially starve to death. (Insert eye roll here.)
For the study, UK researchers examined two sexes of nematode worms: male and hermaphrodite, essentially “modified females” that produce their own sperm and don’t need any males to reproduce. (Sounds like a pretty sweet deal, amirite?) The brains of the male worms were found to contain a pair of neurons that the hermaphrodite worms’ brains did not. They’re called MCMs or “mystery cells of the male.”
To see how the neurons affected male and female behavior, the researchers first seperated the worms by sex and put them in the presence of salt, and then deprived the worms of food. Then, they placed them in a new environment, this one also containing salt. What they learned was that the male and hermaphrodite worms moved away from the salt, suggesting they had learned to see salt as a sign of starvation to come.
But when the researchers starved the worms in the presence of both salt and potential sexual partners (a mixed crowd), the male worms actually moved toward the salt and closer to the hermaphrodite worms—suggesting that their love of sex was greater than their love of not starving.
Hermaphrodite worms, however, still moved away from the salt—they fancied food over sex. What’s more, when researchers surgically removed the males’ MCMs, they behaved just like the hermaphrodites; they no longer preferred to starve for the sake of meeting babes.
Although, so far, the neurons have only been found in the brains of nematode worms, researchers say that similar neurons and sex-to-food preferences are at work in humans, too. But we thought we'd ask you first, so we put a quick survey on our Facebook page and asked: Which do you crave more, sex or food?
Turns out, you all stand divided! 48 percent of you said you prefer food, while 52 percent said you prefer sex.
But okay, for those of you who chose food, we wanted to know...what food would you always choose over sex?
Ice cream, pizza, and french fries topped the list—which is not surprising to us. What was surprising was that one of you wrote chicken. You'd rather eat chicken than have sex? Well, to each her own!