I’ve Got Your Missing Links Right Here (2 November 2013)

Top picks

“He was a hunter-gatherer from remote Papua New Guinea. And now he was in my [Facebook] feed. How did this happen?”

Katie Drummond on the next Agent Orange

Genetics’ Rite of Passage: David Dobbs on the field’s humility, confusion, genius & ambition

“After 13,000 years, the avocado is clueless that the great mammals are gone.” Why the avocado should have gone extinct but didn’t.

Sea otters, dolphins and penguins are utter jerks. Brian Switek gives adorable nature a kicking.

Oarfish necropsy podcast. Because the internet is a wonderful place.

War of the Worlds hysteria is a myth! A fascinating debunking

The Secret Life of Everything: One Journalist Tries to Learn Where Stuff Comes From

Procrastination awareness week will happen next week—or the week after that” – wonderful piece on medicalising normality.

Fish scientists are happy about the spate of oarfish finds and are divvying up the bits for study. Lovely story by Daniel Cressey.

What’s it like to go through a clinical trial for a new cancer drug? Lisa Adams narrates her experience

Every flu vaccine myth debunked. Bam. Bam. BAM. A very linkable resource from Tara Haelle.

This wasp takes its host to the edge of death so it can be a more compliant host, and another parasite that commandeers the brains of hornet queens. From Tommy Leung.

“If orangutans die out, it will be almost single-handedly due to global demand for palm oil.” By Hillary Rosner.

Did Allergies Evolve To Save Your Life? By Christie Wilcox

Snowdenfall: The NSA leaks get the full Guardian interactive treatment.


New approaches are helping autistic people understand neurotypicals—and vice versa.

T.rex, Allosaurus and others may have been beefier than museum specimens suggest.

‘Ethical failure’ leaves one-quarter of all clinical trials unpublished

Cool. A parasitic wave that eats other bigger waves.

Bullet in the brain leads to rather pretty CT image

Autumn leaves – not garbage, but a grand testament to evolution.

Freudian psychology + fMRI = hilarity.

“Eating these little pricks isn’t a permanent solution, but it is highly satisfying” – Erik Vance on lionfish

Does your brain have neurons responsible for fear of snakes and what does that mean for our evolution? I’m not a fan of one-size-fits-all hypotheses but Carl Zimmer gives this one a good overview.

Dogs communicate different feelings with right or leftward tail wagging

Rift widens over structure of HIV’s molecular anchor

US tallgrass prairie’s microbial past revealed

Oh look, Science (the journal) turned up for Halloween dressed as Buzzfeed. Cute!

Congrats to Katherine Harmon-Courage on the publication of her book: Octopus!

13 horrific ways to die if you are an arthropod. A wonderful Halloween photo gallery by Alex Wild.

Why would it be so hard to axe a friend during the zombie apocalypse? (I would absolutely axe each and every one of you.)

A video of a spider amputating its own leg.

If mermaids existed, they’d be constipated (but wouldn’t notice because they’d be busy freezing to death).

How does an 80-ton dinosaur walk? (Hint: Not very fast.)

Ten/twelve years on, the sequencing of the human genome is still causing controversy.

Nothing you say about the brain makes any sense.” Polemical, a bit haughty, but some good points here.

How to make a big ice wall that corrals radiation spills, stabilises tunnels, repels ice zombies.

Rich guy wastes money on pointless genetics exercise that will lead nowhere.

A good video of gold-mining in the Tambopata region, which I wrote about earlier this week.

First fungal farmers found harvesting bacteria

Best way to stop a killer asteroid? Form a committee.

Plague it, Sam. Plague as time goes by.

Gang codes from two perspectives: the gangster’s and the prison guard’s

Vision scientists study what makes subway maps graspable in a glance

Beetles show there is such thing as a free lunch, and it’s a weapon attached to your face.

Remember the totally adorable and newly discovered olinguito? Here are its cubs

Genome hacker builds the largest ever family trees, including one comprising 13 million people.

Q: Why Do Animal Cells Stay So Small? A: Gravity

Loureedia – a genus of velvet spiders that live underground. Genius.

US group wants to help save the black rhino by auctioning off the rights to shoot one. Yeahbutwhat?

An expert on dyslexia lays waste to Malcolm Gladwell’s new book. Another devastating critique in a long line of devastating critiques.

Sexual synaesthesia” – when orgasm basically switches on a cheesy 90s screensaver in your head.

Why the myth of the mummy’s curse refuses to die

I’m enjoying this new Better Know a Fish blog, from Ben Landis.

The eels didn’t need to be living in the shark’s heart…”

Scans pinpoint moment anaesthetic puts brain under

Where did syphilis come from? Katherine Wright’s prize-winning essay from the 2013 Wellcome Trust science writing prize

There’s an optical phenomenon where you appear as a giant ghost in the middle of a rainbow



Amazing NYT correction.

Centers For Disease Contraction Urges Americans To Suck Doorknob

“However, polo is played with a ball, & buzkashi is played with a headless goat carcass.”

This One Weird Mould Kills All Germs” – 20th century headlines, rewritten as linkbait.

Spectacular wattles“: David Attenborough narrates that Miley Cyrus performance

“I Am F**king Ambivalent About Science” – a Facebook group

Man Still Trying To Find Right Work-Anxiety–Life-Anxiety Balance

Suggestions for scientific Halloween costumes from Dean Burnett, including MRSA, entropy, and peer review.

Granada is a city in Spain. Grenada is an island in the Caribbean.

Hooked swordfish jumps into boat, chases man into sea



A good recommendation for narrative writers, from Eric Nelson.

Evgeny Morozov on Buzzfeed and globalisation. A bit tame for him, but a strong argument.

Adam Penenberg challenged hackers to investigate him and what they found out is chilling. The Glass tweet is hilarious

There is no global wine shortage, nor a shortage of pissing around with graphs to tell a fake story.

Twitter has offered me an intellectual community I otherwise lack.” (On opportunity & writing)