Fall 2009 research roundup

Fall 2009 research roundup

Why do women have sex? Why don't some ants? Is your online personality the real you? What do bats sing about to each other? Who's that new meat-eater shaking up the dinosaur family tree? Do toddlers make their own grammar?

These are among the questions University of Texas at Austin researchers answered in the fall 2009 semester.

Here's a look back at what they found.

Women and sex: Let me count the whys
Challenging the idea that women's sexual motivations are tied exclusively to romantic emotions or reproduction, a new study by Cindy Meston and David Buss, psychologists at The University of Texas at Austin, found women's sexual decisions are motivated by a shocking array of reasons that range from the mundane ("I was bored") to a sense of adventure ("I wanted to know what it was like before getting married"), and from the altruistic ("I felt sorry for him") to the borderline evil ("I wanted to give him a sexually transmitted disease").

Watch a video of the Meston and Buss lecture to the Council for the Advancement of Science Writing.

No sex, please. We're Mycocepurus smithii
The complete asexuality of a widespread fungus-gardening ant, the only ant species in the world known to have dispensed with males entirely, has been confirmed by Texas biologists Christian Rabeling, Ulrich Mueller and their Brazilian colleagues.

Who knew? Bats are balladeers
It might not sound like crooners singing about love on the radio, but bats sing love songs to each other too, say researchers at The University of Texas at Austin and Texas AandM University, who are believed to be the first to decode the mysterious sounds made by the winged creatures. Watch Sid the Bat sing a love song.

Fossils shake dinosaur family tree

Tawa Hallae

Paleontologists have unearthed a previously unknown meat-eating dinosaur in New Mexico, settling a debate about early dinosaur evolution, revealing a period of explosive diversification and hinting at how dinosaurs spread across the supercontinent Pangaea.

It had to be you on Facebook
Online social networks such as Facebook are being used to express and communicate real personality, instead of an idealized virtual identity, according to new research from psychologist Sam Gosling. "I was surprised by the findings because the widely held assumption is that people are using their profiles to promote an enhanced impression of themselves," he says.

Toddlers talking have their own grammar rules
Colin Bannard, a linguistics professor, has found that toddlers develop their own individual structures for using language that are very different from what we traditionally think of as grammar.

Learn more about research at The University of Texas at Austin.