Top 10 bizarre experiments

2. Turkey turn-ons

While researching the sexual behaviour of turkeys, Martin Schein and Edgar Hale of Pennsylvania State University discovered that male members of that species truly are not fussy. When placed in a room with a lifelike model of a female turkey, the birds mated with it as eagerly as they would the real thing.

Intrigued by this observation, Schein and Hale embarked on a series of experiments to determine the minimum stimulus it takes to excite a male turkey. This involved removing parts from the turkey model one by one until the male bird eventually lost interest.

Tail, feet and wings - Schein and Hale removed them all, but still the clueless bird waddled up to the model, let out an amorous gobble, and tried to do his thing. Finally, only a head on a stick remained. The male turkey was still keen. In fact, it preferred a head on a stick to a headless body.

The researchers speculated that the males' head fixation stemmed from the mechanics of turkey mating. When a male turkey mounts a female, he is so much larger than her that he covers her completely, except for her head. Therefore, they suggested, it is her head that serves as his focus of erotic attention.

Schein and Hale then went on to investigate how minimal they could make the head before it failed to excite the turkey. They discovered that a freshly severed head on a stick worked best. Next in order of preference was a dried-out male head, followed by a two-year-old "discoloured, withered, and hard" female head. Last place went to a plain balsa wood head, but even that elicited a sexual response. They published their results in 1965 in a book called Sex and Behaviour.

Next - the masked tickler

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07-07-2011