Monday, August 31, 2009

August "Allele Poll" results are in

Ok, let's start with the results that were not in the least bit surprising:

All of you who voted can roll your tongue into a "U" shape. This is the dominant trait, and it's apparently rampant in the population of people who enjoy this blog.

All but one of you who voted have detached ear lobes. This is also the dominant trait. Person with attached ear lobes: I have nothing to say to you.

Half of you have facial dimples and half of you do not. Having facial dimples is the dominant trait, therefore dimply people like myself are better than you non-dimplies.

Now onto the more surprising results:

2 of you are ambidextrous. Really? Can you also write with your feet? Only one of you, in comparison, is left-handed. The rest of you are right-handed, which is the "dominant trait" (though it's since been pointed out that there's a right-handed shift in the population -- which is why you 2 ambidextrous people are probably not actually ambidextrous and only chose that because you were enchanted with my description: ).

Only 3 of you report NOT having a hitchhiker's thumb. The majority of you do have a thumb that curves when you give the thumbs up, but that's the recessive trait. Huh. Maybe that's something that's distinctive about people who enjoy this blog. Maybe I should re-title it the "Hitchhiker's Thumb Blog." Maybe I should try hitchhiking. Why is it called the hitchhiker's thumb, anyway? It's not like if you stick your thumb out like that for prolonged periods of time, like a hitchhiker would, that you will develop such a thumb. Although, if you had a weird thumb like that, maybe it would get the attention of more drivers. They would be more likely to stop for you just to ask you about your bizarre thumb. But that would only really be an evolutionary benefit if like, the entire population had to hitchhike to survive at some point, therefore passing on the weird thumb genes. BUT THEN if the weird hitchhiker thumb was passed on so much that it began to thrive and become the norm, then it wouldn't be weird and drivers would start stopping for people with straight thumbs... should I be concerned that I'm starting to smell burnt toast right now?

And finally, all but three of you CAN SMELL ASPARAGUS PEE!! Why, then, am I faced with so many questioning looks when I say "I hate the smell of asparagus pee!" in mixed company?! If most of you can smell it, then please, next time I mention it, don't look at me like I've said something like, "I went to the hairdresser's and requested a Detroit!" All I ask is that you stand tall.

Oh and in case you're wondering, here's more on asparagus pee (the ability to smell it, the ability to produce it, and why it's probably your genes and a digestive enzyme that are the culprits):

The good news is that asparagus does not affect everyone. Studies conducted on the "asparagus urine" phenomenon (aren't you glad you didn't volunteer!) indicate that roughly 40 to 50 percent of those tested developed the distinctive odor. Surprisingly enough, there is also a segment of the population who cannot smell the sulphurous fumes of asparagus-laced urine. It is believed that both the generation of the odoriferous urine and the ability to smell it are based on genetics. Only those with a certain gene can break down the chemicals inside the asparagus into their smelly components, and only those with the proper gene can smell the results of that chemical breakdown.

Scientists are still not entirely sure which set of chemical compounds contained in asparagus actually cause the smelly pee. The stalks themselves do not acquire a similar odor as they are prepared, so whatever happens most likely happens after ingestion. Experts believe that those with a certain gene produce a digestive enzyme which breaks down the asparagus into various chemical compounds. One of those compounds is called methyl mercaptan, which is the same chemical which gives a skunk its defensive smell. One theory suggests that asparagus breaks down quickly in the body and an enzyme releases methyl mercaptan, which eventually goes through the kidneys and is excreted as a waste product in the urine.

Others suggest that the asparagus smell is created by other chemical compounds called thioesters. There is also a compound called asparagusic acid, which is not surprisingly found primarily in asparagus. If these compounds are broken down and mixed with the genetically-created enzyme, the results could be a strong smelling urine. This smell is actually considered to be good news, since it proves that the asparagus eater's kidneys are functioning as they should.

(Thank you,

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