Imagine taking a nap at a time when woolly mammoths roamed the plains… and then waking up in the twenty-first century. That may sound like a science fiction story, but it might be the real experience of tiny aquatic animals called rotifers.
This synthesis of the paper was sanctioned by the original author, [pace Kaeli on Twitter](https://twitter.com/corvidresearch/status/1341133890195341312). Even if you're pretty much willing to take that top-level conclusion on faith, it's interesting to read about the experimental design.
Nature is so much weirder than people give her credit for. Anyway, if you're ever looking for cuter examples than lizards for your "actually sex isn't that simple" arguments, consider these guys?
Also, I choked on air reading this (in an otherwise touching piece):
> In the early 1990s, however, it was too expensive and laborious to find answers by sequencing the bird's genome. So Tuttle initially focused on collecting more detail about their behaviour, such as how they selected mates and where they built nests. The goal was to understand what might affect offspring survival. She caught and tagged birds, drew blood samples and perfected the art of collecting semen. “Elaina was the best bird masturbator I ever met,” Gonser says.
## The paper, hastily and badly summarised
The authors describe and extensively document how a Raspberry Pi can be used to, for example, study how fruit flies react to light. Why is this interesting? It provides ways to build a system that can react to the subject’s changes in behaviour using a very accessible platform: the humble Pi.
Not only can existing reactions to light or chemicals be studied using setups like these. By inserting genes that are sensitive to, for instance, light (optogenetics) in front of a gene of interest, you can control that gene’s expression using light!
## Slightly bigger picture
Well, I just love it when researchers create a tool that is simply _easier_ to use, _build_, and of course _afford_. Seeing a small thing powered by a familiar, tiny circuit board sitting on a table might make a cool new field all that more accessible, in general.