Mice of bad taste:
They told us in medical school that if a female mouse smelled a strange male she would abort.  I was not impressed.  I thought that was just blind fear at work.  I’m more impressed now.  And there is more evidence.  (Veronique
Greenwood Taste-Blind Mice Make Tangled Sperm SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN vol. 309 no. 4 October 2013 page 23 reviewing an article in the July issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Science USA)  There are a couple of genes for taste involved.  If a female has defective copies she can still have offspring.  If a male lacks them he cannot.  They make defective sperm. 

The questions that arise for the experts are exactly how those genes are required for sperm development and what other genes might have radically different functions in different places.

Of course I have to be different.  Only I’m not sure how to on this one.  Male infertility.  Well that’s down my ally all right.  And sense of smell certainly is related to fertility.  But taste?  Hmm.  Can’t see it being critical for kin recognition.  I mean if it were smell, then I’d be saying, “Aha, another mechanism for suppressing fertility in a population of excessive genetic variability.”  But taste is pretty limited.  There’s sweet, sour, bitter, salty and savory.  That’s not enough to specify, “Yep, she’s a cousin all right.”  I can’t even come up with a theory, much less an experiment.

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