Humans Get Hangry But They Aren’t The Only Species

I think we all know somebody who gets just a little bit irritated when they don’t eat regularly. Perhaps you are even that person.

It’s a well-known fact that it happens, and there is even a name for it. When it happens, we say that somebody is getting hangry (a combination of hungry and angry).

It seems as if some researchers from the University of Oxford and the University of East Anglia were also willing to weigh in on the subject. Apparently, it is not only humans who experience this, but they’ve even studied it in male fruit flies. When they are hungry, they tend to be more aggressive.

Photo: flickr/John Tann

Researchers put male fruit flies together and watched how they interacted with each other.

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In order to see if they reacted differently when they were hungry, they put the flies in vials with different amounts of fruit and limited their access to it. It resulted in some fights, but those picked up steam when there was less food available.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

When the flies were not able to access the food, they would get more aggressive and display that behavior more frequently. The senior author of the study, Dr. Jan Perry, had this to say:

“We found that hungry male fruit flies display more hostility toward each other.

They’re more likely to aggressively lunge at each other and to swat at each other with their legs (‘fencing’ behavior), and they spend more time defending food patches.

The hungrier they get, the more combativeness they display. In other words, just like humans, fruit flies get ‘hangry’.”

Photo: flickr/NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center

According to the study, the flies may begin to fight more aggressively in something they refer to as a desperado effect.

It may be something that allows the fruit flies to survive. For the time being, however, we will be satisfied knowing that we are not alone in this difficult problem.

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