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SCIENCE IN THE NEWS DAILY

Marked-Up Birds Become Sexier, Exude Testosterone

from the Los Angeles Times (Registration Required)

WASHINGTON (Associated Press) - A little strategically placed makeup quickly turns the wimpiest of male barn swallows into chick magnets, amping up their testosterone and even trimming their weight, new research shows. It's a "clothes make the man" lesson that -- with some caveats -- also applies to human males, researchers say.

Using a $5.99 marker, scientists darkened the rust-colored breast feathers of male New Jersey barn swallows, turning lighter birds to the level of those naturally darkest.

They had already found, in a test three years ago, that the marked-up males were more attractive to females and mated more often. This time they found out that the more attractive appearance, at least in the bird world, triggered changes to the animals' body chemistry, increasing testosterone.

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