ScienceShot: Cockroaches Prefer Right Turns

When a cockroach scuttles into a dark corner as we flip on the kitchen light, we feel revulsion, not kinship. But a new study reveals that most humans share a basic trait with Kafka's creepy creatures: right-handedness. Researchers released roaches into a Y-shaped tube, where scents of vanilla or ethanol enticed the insects to venture past the tube's splitting point. The researchers then recorded which direction the bugs turned. Cockroaches with intact antennae preferred the tube's right fork 57% of the time. This right-side bias persisted even after the scientists chopped off one of the bugs' sensitive antennae, used to sense touch and smells. The finding, which will be published in an upcoming issue of the Journal of Insect Behavior, adds to a growing body of evidence that even the tiniest brains show side-preference. The insight could aid bioengineers who hope to control cockroaches for search and rescue missions or pest control.

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Posted in Plants & Animals