I’ve got your missing links right here (07 September 2013)

For a weekly newsletter that rounds up my own writing, sign up here. Now, on with the links

Top picks

This David Dobbs story, on how our lives shape our genes, is just a stunning piece of world-class writing.

Some weird insect/spider/thing is building a white fence around its eggs, and no one knows what it is. Matthew Cobb has the story. Nadia Drake also covered it for Wired, with tons of quotes from baffled experts.

Why are you not dead yet? Laura Helmuth collects the various ways in which her friends would have died by now.

Come for the mucus carpentry of snails; stay for Robert Krulwich’s adorable drawings

Christian Jarrett brings some much-needed scepticism to the widely reported Neuroracer study. And Daniel Simons lists 19 questions he would have asked about the recent brain-training study, had he been a reviewer

Brian Switek on the clitoral bone, and why humans don’t have one

“The only memory of the bee is a painting by a dying flower.” Poignant XKCD strip.

Wolves Howl For Friends, Challenging A Popular Theory of Animal Communication. By Jason Goldman.

Great story on bee flight, muscles, and old things evolving to do new things, by Malcolm Campbell

A beautifully written piece about a swordfish with a nose ring.


Congrats to Mary Bates who joins Wired’s sci blog network with a new blog on animal intelligence

An Australian train accident is being blamed on millipedes.

Buddhist monasteries as nodes for snow leopard populations due to protective influence of monks.

The 16th-century version of the nosejob is every bit as horrific as you might imagine

Trying to decide between a secret underwater base or a secret volcano lair? DON’T WORRY

Lord! Voles de mort


What’s in that nugget? The USDA will allow chicken processed in China to be sold in the US without origin labeling

KERMIE?!? Male frogs inject courtship hormones into females with nuptial pads hooks & spines

“In most cases the press release was more gracefully written.” Faye Flam on uncritical Martian origin of life stories

Stop pretending we aren’t living in the Space Age

Scientists to sequence genomes of hundreds of newborns

The Science of Big Science.

A touching tribute to the late Anne Szarewski, a leading HPV researcher.

The poorest Costa Ricans live longest. Because telomeres?

NYT profile of Eugenie Scott, an incredible spokesperson for science nearing the end of her 27-yr directorship of the NCSE

The Ethics of ‘Mini Human Brains’—Neuroskeptic’s on the money with his analysis

Oh. Crap. There’s a second amphibian-killing fungus out there.

Cool, the first ever Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton discovered is going on display at London’s Natural History Museum

Here’s Kevin Mitchell explaining why the hype around optogenetics is justified

Why the other queue always seems like it’s moving faster.

Jennifer Ouellette on duelling theories about mysterious Namibian fairy circles.

Chemicals like putrescine, cadaverine and spermidine can keep fruit flies sharp in old age

How do we determine if octopuses feel pain?


Amazing shot of a great white shark breaching

Researchers cut open a rainbow trout to find… 20 shrews.

Government to pursue “anecdote-based policymaking”

Noam Chomsky as an X-Factor judge

How fast could you hit a speed bump, yet live?


BBC Business Editor explains to a 6yr old why they only get £1 a week pocket money: t.co/qBBZMn4dQl

Sometimes “don’t feed the trolls” is the wrong response. Some trolls need smacked down.

How Robert Lee Hotz turned no suspense, no surprise, no scoop into a Pulitzer finalist series.

You’re doing it wrong: what you can learn from bad science PR pitches