I’ve got your missing links right here (31 August 2013)

Top picks

Megan Garber’s story about Rodrigo Medillin—the Batman of Central Park—is a masterpiece of taut, colourful profile-writing.

Here’s another great Amy Harmon piece on GMOs, this time about Golden Rice, and a solid riposte from Emily Willingham to a baffling Forbes opinion piece: “Science and GMOs are not the bad guys”.

East Coast dolphin deaths linked to measles-like virus. By Nadia Drake.

Big debate over guppy intelligence. Nice work from Ewen Callaway, covering the pushback rather than just the initial study.

Poverty saps mental capacity to deal with complex tasks. This story by Alok Jha is a model of news reporting—provides clarity, context, critique, and is much more balanced than the paper it’s based on!

The insurance industry is paying close attention to the future of climate change. Great NYT column by Maggie Koerth’Baker.

Congratulations to Ben Lillie and Erin Barker, whose Story Collider podcast hit 1 million downloads

Here’s an insightful, level-headed take from SciCurious on optogenetics

This is one of the most incredible examples of animal mimicry I’ve ever seen. It’s an optical illusion!

Study raises red flag about idea of universal influenza vaccine. More superb reporting by Helen Branswell.

Emily Graslie talks about the newly discovered olinguito, and the treasures locked in museum collections.

When do we get our microbiomes? Possibly long before birth. Carl Zimmer reports

In an epidemic era, “one restrictive government can still put the whole world in danger by clamming up.” Great report from Maryn McKenna.

An incredible photo-essay by Nick Nichols about the lives and slaughter of elephants.

“Politicians who flatly reject climate science are now being replaced by climate policy sceptics” – Leo Hickman on the metamorphosis of climate denialism, in his last piece for the Guardian

Genes Aren’t Just Architects; They’re Actors. A preview of David Dobb’s amazing upcoming story.


Gut microbes could help to explain why some obese people develop metabolic disease & others don’t. By Veronique Greenwood.

Cool crowdfunded project to analyse DNA in museum diorama specimens, from woman who showed Nile crocs are 2 species!

We’ve been looking at ant intelligence the wrong way!

During WWI, biological warfare targeted transportation. Meaning horses.

David Dobbs highlights one of several problems with John Horgan’s rant on optogenetics.

What was as tall as a giraffe, weighed 550 pounds & could fly? Besides a stuffed giraffe with a jetpack.

NASA’s 3-D printer is the 3-D printer your 3-D printer wishes it could be

Video of new species of walking shark found in Indonesia; also, the story of the discovery

New claims about a Martian origin for life on Earth have been mostly uncritically covered, but here are good takes from Govert Schilling at Science and Caleb Scharf at SciAm.

How One Nuclear Missile Base Is Battling Ground Squirrels

“This is one poster featuring mullets you will not be embarrassed to display.”

First video of spontaneous ejaculation in a wild dolphin. That is all.

A cool blog about ocean sunfish science (and dissections!)

World’s largest ever fish was around half as big as previously thought, but STILL world’s largest

Brazilian self-citation cartel” is possibly the world’s lamest cartel

Custodian of University of Queensland Pitch Drop Experiment dies never having seen a drop fall

The Attack of the Giant Water Bug.

Here are the best entrants in GE’s contest to squeeze a science thing into a 6-second Vine.

Nice. A memory scientist’s take on Memento.

King crabs evolved from hermits! Nice, but claim that this is “one of the most debated questions among evolutionary biologists” is absurd.

I passed on writing about this paper claiming that music competitions are judged on visuals not sound, and Tom Stafford has a good critique of it. And here’s another good one.

Really beautiful film showing how ant-lions hunt.

Even severed octopus arms will reach out for your soul, I mean, react to stuff.

Badger cull trials begin. Alice Roberts sums up the science so far.

Babies learn to recognise words in the womb

The British Geological Service has launched a database of 3-D fossil models to view, play with, and print.

10 cool things you might not have known about rubber technology

How an owl’s brain maps its next kill

US behavioural researchers most biased: Latest output of Ioannidis continuing work on bias; see also Ivan Oransky’s report.

The introvert listicles are getting silly now.

“It is called “the horse dung fungus” in Australia. But on the inside, it is a work of art.”

Mun-Keat Looi visits the world’s only parasite museum

UCDavis surgeons who botched bacteria-in-brain experiments resign, maintain they did nothing wrong

Australia ‘stole’ enough of the world’s water to drop sea levels by as much as 7mm


If you pop a water balloon just right, it looks like a twirling jellyfish

A preview of the ever-astonishing Wildlife Photographer of the Year 2013 competition.

Thresher shark totally photobombs a nice picture of some dolphins

Praying mantis eats a hummingbird

Once you see it, you can’t unsee it: Giant Anteater’s Legs Look Like Pandas

L’Oreal unveils two new female neuroses

The most British protest sign ever

“If you could teleport to a random pt on the Earth’s surface, what are the odds you’ll see signs of intelligent life?”

“Why are Americans afraid of dragons?” and other important autocomplete questions

Someone please get me this velociraptor costume


The Syria Crisis Appeal – you know what to do.

Saving the Last of the Great Carousels

Robin Ince on the allure of illusory oppression & a quick check of his privilege

Exploring two paths to science writing with Laura Helmuth (from sciences) and Alan Burdick (from humanities)

The curse of being the sole survivor.

A pretty good explainer on the Syria situation, by the Onion.

Cypherpunk, digerati, glocal: Alexis Madrigal tracks the fate of the 90s’ most radical (and terrible) words. But let’s reclaim nerkish.

How many stories do science-writers work on at once? Read these answers and weep.

Too many long-form science stories are undone, rather than made, by their central character. Virginia Hughes reviews a new book.

Breaking Bad’s Anna Gunn on the irrational hatred of Skyler White

Enter: Punderdome! An article about competitive punning