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Why Are Feet So Stinky?

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Chloe Effron / iStock

WHY? is our attempt to answer all the questions every little kid asks. Do you have a question? Send it to why@mentalfloss.com.

Some parts of your body, like your feet, get a lot stinkier than others. But it’s not actually your body that stinks. It’s the bacteria (back-TEER-ee-uh) that live on it. Bacteria are tiny living things with only one cell, but together they are powerful. They live all over you, and also inside of you. Some bacteria can make you sick. Other bacteria help you stay healthy. And some bacteria cause you to be smelly—especially the ones that live on your feet.

Feet can get hot and sweaty, especially when they spend a lot of time inside of shoes. Sweat is a good thing, because it helps cool your body down when it’s too hot. Sweat doesn’t have an odor. It is made mostly of water. The problem is, bacteria that live on your feet love wet, warm places. So when your feet sweat, bacteria eat the dead skin and oils that cover your feet and quickly reproduce (REE-pro-DOOSE), or make more bacteria. That’s when things start to get really stinky!

The bacteria on your feet give off gases as they eat. Those gases smell like rotten cheese, sulfur, vinegar, and other sour stuff—eeww! To get rid of those bad odors, you have to cut down on the amount of bacteria on your feet. Wearing clean socks can help. It’s also good to air your shoes out after you wear them. Most importantly, wash your feet with soap and water every day and dry them well. 

To learn more about stinky feet, watch this video from the American Chemical Society.


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Animals
Why Do Female Spotted Hyenas Give Birth Through Their Pseudo-Penises?
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YouTube

At the zoo, you can sometimes tell the difference between male and female animals by noting their physical size, their behavior, and yes, their nether regions. Hyenas, however, flip the script: Not only are lady spotted hyenas bigger and meaner than their male counterparts, ruling the pack with an iron paw, they also sport what appear to be penises—shaft, scrotum, and all.

"Appear" is the key word here: These 7-inch-long phalluses don't produce sperm, so they're technically really long clitorises in disguise. But why do female hyenas have them? And do they actually have to (gulp) give birth through them? Wouldn't that hurt … a lot?

The short answers to these questions are, respectively, "We don't know," "Yes," and "OW." Longer answers can be found in this MinuteEarth video, which provides the full lowdown on hyena sex. Don't say we didn't warn you.

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science
Are Sex, Drugs, and Rock 'n' Roll Really Linked? Researchers Investigate
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Steve Wood/Express/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Around the world, sex, drugs, and rock 'n' roll are said to go hand-in-hand. But do they? As PsyPost reports, a pair of Pennsylvania psychologists recently dove into the empirical evidence tying the three together, asking college students to talk about their drug use, sex lives, and music preferences and talents to suss out whether people who play and enjoy rock music really do have more active sex lives and drug use.

Published in the journal Human Ethnology Bulletin, the study [PDF] of 467 students relied on self-reporting, which isn't typically the most reliable evidence—people are wont to exaggerate how often they've had sex, for instance—but the survey also asked them about their desires, posing questions like "If you could, how frequently would you have sex?" It also asked about how often the students drank and what drugs they had tried in their lifetimes. They also described their musical experience and what kind of music they listened to.

The results were mixed, but the researchers identified a relationship between liking faster, "harder" music and having more sex and doing more drugs. Acoustic indie rock aficionados weren't getting quite as wild as heavy metal fans. High-tempo-music lovers were more likely to have taken hallucinogenic drugs like LSD, for example, and tended to have had more sexual partners in the previous year than people who favored slower types of music. According to the study, previous research has found that attention-seeking people are more likely to enjoy "hard" music.

The study didn't have a diverse enough group either in age or in ethnicity to really begin to make sweeping generalizations about humans, especially since college students (the participants were between 18 and 25) tend to engage in more risky behaviors in general. But this could lay the groundwork for future research into the topic. Until then, it might be more accurate to change the phrase to "sex, drugs, and heavy metal."

[h/t PsyPost]

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