How The Moon Controls Biological Cycles
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How The Moon Controls Biological Cycles


As far as we know, humans are the only living
things that wear watches. But we aren’t the only ones that can tell
time. Earth’s movement sets the rhythms of countless
biological clocks. The 24 hour solar period winds cellular gears
controlling sleep, hunger, and metabolism in creatures ranging from jellyfish to elephants. And our 365-and-a-quarter-day journey around
the sun regulates cycles of seasons, harvests, and migrations. But the phases of our planet’s nearest neighbor
also have a surprising pull on biological rhythms. [OPEN] For many species the moon’s glow is a cue
that’s crucial to their survival. Vampires and emo teenagers aren’t the only
ones who find moonlight romantic. Lots of animals use the 29-and-a-half day
lunar cycle to sync up when it comes to finding a mate. Triggered by the full moon, impalas roar,
which in turn triggers all their female mates to begin ovulation. Using a common signal like this ensures every
member of a species goes looking for a partner at the same time. Lunar cycles are especially important in the
sea. Marine bristle worms live on rocky shorelines,
where they rise to the water’s surface under the dim light of the new moon. The worms mass together, swirling around one
another and release their gametes in sync. This big mating party increases the chances
that any one worm will contribute to the next generation. Some eels also reproduce all at once, and
rely on the dim light of the new moon to avoid predators. The moon also controls the tides, and that
pull can help some animals’ eggs and larvae develop and survive. Fish called grunion lay their eggs high up
on beaches during high tides, where the sand protects the eggs as they develop. They hatch when the next cycle of high tides
washes them out to sea. But what *controls* these living lunar cycles? These species must have an inner moon clock. When scientists raised marine worms in constant
light or darkness, they didn’t try to reproduce. But when they gave them artificial light on
a lunar schedule, the worms did their mesmerizing mating dance. The scientists found special neurons in the
worms’ brains that respond to light, linked to timing genes that control these lunar behaviors. The moon seems to act like a signal that supercharges
the worms’ desire to mate when the light at night is just right. But the moon is more than just a clock. It transforms ecosystems. The full moon is 100 times brighter than the
new moon. This lets animals see their prey, forage,
and navigate better. But all that light can be risky. Many species of frogs avoid calling to their
friends during the full moon, since the extra light makes it more vulnerable to predators. And all the manmade light sources now flooding
the night could provide a fake, full-time full moon that might throw ecosystems out
of whack. So what about us? Women’s reproductive cycles are about the
same length as the lunar cycle, but scientists think that’s probably just a coincidence. If human menstrual cycles were, in fact, linked
to the moon, why not our great ape sisters? Now that millions of women are using apps
to track menstrual periods, it’s become pretty clear there’s likely no connection. So for antelopes, coral, fish, and even wildebeest
on the Serengeti, the phases of life are set by phases up above. Next time you take a look at that fancy clock
in your pocket, remember that you aren’t the only creature on Earth who relies on a
satellite to know what time it is. Stay curious. Yes. Technically speaking, moonlight is just sunlight. So you can stop typing that comment. And no, there’s no such thing as werewol

100 thoughts on “How The Moon Controls Biological Cycles

  1. When the moon hits your eye like… [YOU FINISH THE LYRIC!]

    Let us know what you thought of this week's video! And if you've got a burning science question, leave a comment and maybe we'll answer it in a future video…

  2. "Everybody here is out of sight
    They don't bark and they don't bite
    They keep things loose they keep it tight
    Everybody's dancing in the moonlight ~"
    Was thinking of this song all along
    Continues to dance in the moonlight

  3. I find it weird that there are living beings that control their cycles using lunar light because it can be easily disrupted by heavy clouds.

    But who am I to question that which was selected as best by evolution?

  4. There was a woman left on her own in solidarity. Her sense of time was completely off and her menstrual cycle was to. Meaning her menstrual cycle was connected to her minds clock, the lunar cycle would be a good way of keeping time. Maybe not so much a coincidence. Also important to note our ape sisters don't have periods and hence don't need monthly timers.

  5. If a year is 365 and a quarter days then why do we fix that my adding a day every forth year, wouldn’t that just put us 2 days ahead?

  6. About women's periods not being synced to the lunar cycle… Is it possible that in ancient times it was that way and the evolution of modern artificial lights threw that out of whack?

  7. I'm surprised no one commented on the sun/moon-fast-forward animation being wrong. The moon started in a waning phase and should have become a smaller crescent each day until it reached a new moon and started waxing full again. It also shouldn't have been cycling at the same rate as the sun but rather getting a little further behind each day. Not to be too picky, but since this video is about the phases of the moon… (still a big fan of the show) =)

  8. Videos on this channel deserve more likes. Although there are many American science channels, in my country for example it is vague and would tend to be more successful. This is one of the few: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WvQlhMjGo4M
    Look at how many views, and if you hear the effect phrase at the end you will see that it was inspired by your channel

  9. When the moon hits your eye like…
    …the light-sensing cells of sea worms, that's amoré!

    Great video! Super informative and the animation is great. And although as you said women's cycles being about as long as a lunar cycle is just a coincidence, humans have drawn our own links to the moon for centuries. The moon has long been linked in different cultures to the female reproductive cycle, femininity, and different goddesses. So even if we humans aren't biologically influenced, we definitely have been trying to connect ourselves more to that lunar cycle that influences so much of the world.

  10. Why do we put collars on our pets?
    I think this would be a cool episode idea. Keep pushing out the great content! Love watching your videos.

  11. What if we used to set our mating cycles off the moon but all that changed when we started spending a lot more time indoors and less time outside especially at night?

  12. I just want to say this as the vid kinda made it seem as though the moon controls the tides. The moon and the sun does have a great influence on the tides another massive factor is the earths own rotation

  13. if the moon wasn't around nothing would have happened in our lifetime and life always finds a way and moonlight is a sunlight​.

  14. maybe were not as much ape as scientist would like us to think. i think its not just random chance that a human females cycle is linked with the moon

  15. No connection my ass, we live in a world not regulated by the moon. Think about it you disprove yourself. All those animals synched in evolution with the moon not the other way as the moon predates them… come on… so we've made this artificial system with non stop light if you chose… first flames… now never-ending light… of course woman don't follow it in synch anymore because they are inundated with light(woman aren't allowed on subs)… it would be advantageous to sink with the moon for mate optimization because human mating markets are a parado, distribution. Woman are more risk adverse, men are the opposite… without a constraint on coupling, large amounts of higher tiered men control the mating market… we are of nature… we just choice not to aknowlege it… study women in the wild… you scroag at night and if my theory is correct, a synch, cycle would mean partner bonding… at least more egalitarian to propagate diversity. We've killed that.

  16. Lunar cycles and day length are important with plants too. Daffodils and Tulips bloom earlier in spring on increasing day length Chrysanthemums, Turtlehead (Chelone sp.) bloom in Autumn as daylength shortens. Growers will trick mums into blooming earlier (when we want to buy them in fall) by using black covers to mimic the shorter days of fall, even though production starts in August. They normally bloom a lot later in nature.

  17. I would like to disagree on the women's menstrual cycle being linked to the moon. It is supposed to be…and I know many people whose are…and most of them live out of organic home cooked food. Food, life style, medications and contraceptives to name a few can influence and affect the cycle…which is why they are not synced. I would love a video going more in depth to prove this hypothesis wrong.

  18. "By the dim light of the new moon." There's… no light reflected by a new moon, it's on the other side of the planet, hiding in the daytime sky with the sun on the far side of it.

  19. AhHAHAHAAahah !!! do you realise how amusing and ridiculous you sound? as if you are a woman and you know for sure! So many women are getting more and more in touch with their bodies thanks to Hindu philosophy, Native American women and authors such as Alisa Vitti , or Christiane Northrup …It s okay to be smart? I would say, It's not ok to JUST LOOK smart !

  20. and out of ALLLLLL 5,540 placental mammals, only one corresponds to the length of the moons cycle. our women!

  21. I thought our ancestors used moon cycles to measure woman's cycles. If a woman skipped a moon cycle then she would be pregnant.
    From what my grandparents have told me ….

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