So it was that I finished my exams for GENS9007: Psychobiology of Sex, Love and Attraction yesterday. I praise the brilliance of the course coordinators for holding three separate exams along the semester rather than a big one at the end.

“This course WON’T help you with your love life,” our lecturer, Prof. Rick Richardson reminded early on the course. “But mentioning that you failed this course would probably mess it up,” he added. He was right on the first point though, this is after all a science course rather than an advice column. But I did learn some new facts along the way:

Humans have weird sex
Among the animal kingdom, we have the weirdest sex ever. Points in case:

  1. We have sex in private. Well, most of the time.
  2. We have sex mostly for fun. Others, especially mammals, only have sex when they’re in heat.
  3. Females have large breasts outside of lactation. In other species, having large breasts is a turn-off since you’re not in the market.
  4. Males have a large role in sex. Males in other species just provide sperms and that’s it.
  5. Females have menopauses. Other species just get less fertile.
  6. We have long-term sex partners. Monogamy is very rare in the animal kingdom.

Does size matter?
Guys, cheer up. Penis only needs to be 4cm (1.5 inch) in length to work (i.e. introduce sperm). And they also only need to be that long to satisfy a woman. The clitoris and G-spot is not that far in.

In fact, guys mostly worry about their penis length more because of intrasexual competition. Women rarely care.

From an experiment by Pitnick, Jones & Wilkinson (2005) on the brain and testis size in bats, they found out that bats with bigger testis have smaller brains and vice versa. Go figure.

Sperm wars
There is a common pattern observed in a lot of species: last male sperm precedence. The phenomenon is, when a female mates with two males, the later (second) male fertilises 80-95% of the eggs. If the matings are separated by 2 days, the second male would fertilise 87% of the eggs. Separate them by 7 days, 96% of the eggs are fertilised.

Scientists are still baffled by this.

Psychic lemurs
A study on lemurs in Madagascar discovered that the females choose to have sex with the male that would be dominant NEXT year, rather than the dominant male that year. Uncanny huh?

Average number of sexual partners desired
In the coming 1 year: 1
In the coming 3 years: 2
For life: 4-5

In the coming 1 year: more than 6
In the coming 3 years: 10
For life: 18

Beer goggles
They say beer affects your judgement, that someone from the opposite sex becomes more attractive the drunker you get.

Not true. Research has shown that alcohol is unrelated. Most probably the “beer goggles” effect is due to the decrease in opportunities for casual sex as the night goes late.

Am I the father?
A new mother and her mother will always quickly point out to the new father that their newborn child looks exactly like him, although you CAN NEVER tell the similarity that early on.

This is to assure the new father that the baby is HIS. Mothers know for certain that the baby is theirs. Fathers don’t.

Handicap principle
Females in most species will only assess the two honest traits of males: fearlessness and symmetry. Honest as in you can not fake these traits.

All in all, this was a fun and enlightening course. You get to meet students from all walks of courses, most of them somehow hot. Don’t worry if you’re uninitiated, you do not ever have to divulge your sex life and you definitely do not need to discuss things that you’re uncomfortable with. But if you ARE uninitiated, you’ll be glad to take this course—there are a lot of simple sex education basics that a lot of people are ignorant about, and this course makes sure you get the facts right.

I heartily recommend this course.