Wednesday, January 20, 2010

The Sexual Selection of Cankles

Quite unexpectedly, I have found myself a fancier of flightless birds. Perhaps this comes from doing my dissertation on flightless birds. Perhaps I have always had a fetish for feathery cloacas incapable of flight that has only recently been embraced. Perhaps they're the same thing. But as a flightless avian cloaca lover, I read a lot about birds. I have recently come across the word "caruncle". It seems unlikely that I haven't run across this piece of anatomical awesomeness before, but then I'm blonde and sometimes it take a few times for something to stick. In general, a caruncle is a fleshy outgrowth; in birds, the caruncle is the wattle - the fleshy outgrowth on the neck, throat, or below the eye. Though, upon discovering this word "caruncle", I now refuse to use the inferior term "wattle". Turkeys, chickens, and cassowaries are choice examples of birds with caruncles. while nothing will ever surpass my love of the word "cloaca" (and who doesn't love a universal hole?), "caruncle" now comes in a close second.

Not only are fleshy protuberances awesome, but "caruncle" reminds me of the word "cankle", another favorite. And it's rather fitting - are cankles really anything more than fleshy outgrowths? Mine aren't. That being said, it's upsetting that cankles have come to have such derogatory connotations. For example:
And I think it benefits society to note that while googling for links, I came across this little gem: Gold's Gym has launched a "Say No To Cankles" campaign and even a Cankles Awareness Month. Thank you, Internet. And thank you, Gold's Gym for doing your part for raising cankle awareness. That's just one step closer to social acceptance.

Because caruncles and cankles are both fleshy growths and have so many letters in common, there's no denying that they could have much more in common. In fact, I propose that cankles are a human analog for the avian caruncle. Parsimony and actual logic be damned! Consequently, it's important to point out that the caruncle is used for sexual selection in many birds (though I'm not yet suggesting that cankles have erectile tissue like many avian caruncles do). In birds, the larger the caruncle, the more dominant the male. So, the next obvious step is that humans need to stop the mocking of cankles and start considering them when selecting mates. Gold's Gym even acknowledges that there are hereditary reasons (i.e., genetic controls) for cankles, implying that cankles are susceptible to natural and sexual selection. No, that's not just the steroids talking. Cankles are inadvertently selected in drunken hookups (as referenced in the energy drink video above) that result in pregnancy. It's time for cankles to step out of the drunken haze of bad decisions and take the sober limelight. In fact, it's past time sexual selection takes the forefront in human evolution. With advances in modern medicine saving people from their own stupidity, it may be all we have left.