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Feds Give University Nearly $1M to Study Snail Sex

If you ever wondered why America is so backwards and broke, just look at some of what it decides to throw nearly $1 million in taxpayer dollars at: snail sex.

America’s national debt may stand at roughly $16 trillion, but don’t let that stand in the way of important scientific study, right?

Enter a National Science Foundation grant supporting research into the implications of sexual and asexual reproduction of the Potamopyrgus antipodarum, a.k.a – the New Zealand snail.

“The National Science Foundation awarded a grant for $876,752 to the University of Iowa to study whether there is any benefit to sex among New Zealand mud snails and whether that explains why any organism has sex,” CNSNews reports.

… So far, the grant has paid out $502,357, according to NSF, and could pay out the full $880,000 between now and 2015. The study is funded through what NSF calls a continuing grant meaning that it agrees with the researcher to fund a certain amount, but can end up spending more on the grant if NSF agrees that more money is warranted. …

The broader aim of the study is to find out why sexual reproduction and males exist, arguing that sex is biologically inefficient for females. Because an asexual organism can simply clone itself faster than it can reproduce if it finds a mate, the study seeks to see if there are other benefits to sexual reproduction that outweigh this ‘cost’ of finding a mate.

In a University of Iowa press release announcing the grant, this is described as the “cost of males” – explaining that female organisms shouldn’t need to produce sons instead of daughters because producing daughters simply involves asexual duplication – which can then duplicate themselves – while male offspring cannot produce other male offspring unaided.

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