I’ve Got Your Missing Links Right Here (14 December 2013)

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Top picks

1 in 1000 anaesthesia patients are aware on operating table. Preventing that will teach us about how consciousness works. By Maggie Koerth-Baker.

Listen to Lee Berger tell the story of the Rising Star expedition from start to finish

Monitor lizards have one-way lungs that extract oxygen when they inhale AND exhale.

Autistic people “take in too much & learn too fast”. Stunning story by Maia Szalavitz on a neuroscientist’s quest to understand his autistic son.

Brian Switek on the rise and fall of the great sabre-toothed cats

How will world’s 1st commercial deep seabed mining affect the lives of Pacific islanders? Jo Chandler dives deep

Today I learned that the dragonfly nymph’s Alien-like ballistic jaws are powered by its anus. Thanks, Bug Girl.

“The ants are called crazy ants. That’s their actual name.” By Jon Mooallem. But see this counterpoint from Alex Wild.

A study of 46 species finds no connection between ageing & lifespan. Cool, baffling work, covered by Virginia Hughes. And if you want to watch her talk about her career and craft, check out this video.

Boosting memory in monkeys w/ a neuroprosthesis. In a simple, artificial task, but STILL. Via Neuroskeptic.

What were the first animals? Probably something like the comb jellies. Carl Zimmer explains.

There was a lovely warm lake on Mars 3.5 billion years ago. A microbe would have found it very pleasant.

Waves of ageing, cresting into the future. Awesome way of visualising the ageing world.

4 billion years of Martian history in 2 mins – a gorgeous NASA video

The utterly nuts backstory behind the Field Museum’s Fighting Elephants exhibit. By Emily Graslie.

A calm look at mirror neurons–the most hyped concept in neuroscience. Bravo, James Kilner and Christian Jarrett


The utterly nuts backstory behind the Field Museum’s Fighting Elephants exhibit.

“One of the best places to survey [evolution’s] sloppy creativity is inside your nose.” Carl Zimmer on the rise and fall of smell receptors.

Did Brain Scans Just Save a Convicted Murderer From the Death Penalty? Sigh.

FDA finally, sorta, maybe imposes controls on agricultural antibiotics. Great explainer by Maryn McKenna.

What We’ve Learned about Evolution from the Long-Term Evolution Experiment, from the great Richard Lenski himself.

On being born with ambiguous genitalia

Nature’s progress update on its mission to increase the gender balance in its pages

Vitamins: the first four billion years.

Scientists are starting to toughen up our crop plants with microscopic fungi

An artificial hand that simulates a sense of touch. Gotta love a study that involves actual cherry-picking.

Helen’s Choice: Eric Michael Johnson discusses multiple mating among females in the natural world

Newly discovered flower makes fake pollen to fool bees.

Wolves can learn from humans; what does that mean for dogs?

Apolemia lanosa is “the ocean’s way of celebrating Christmas all year long”

Nearly every female scientist has heard “you don’t look like a scientist!” It’s not a compliment; it’s sexism.

Fungus threatens top banana

Plesiosaurs by the Tail

How do sea slugs steal a jellyfish’s sting?

Scientists have found the one place on Earth that’s colder than my living room right now.

An alternative Easter Island scenario, involving rat buffets and rock gardens. Via Robert Krulwich.

Colin Schultz goes all Dr Seuss in his latest post on the pukeko

How insects conquered land, in a 3-minute vid

Nobel laureate Randy Schekman, who has published several papers in Nature, Science and Cell and is now head of a new journal, calls for a boycott of luxury journals like Nature, Science and Cell. Others react.

NY judge denies a habeas corpus writ for Kiko, ruling the chimp cannot be a legal person:

19 year study shows that lemon sharks return to their birthplace to give birth, just like salmon.

The journal Nature teams up with r/science

“With adults, you can ask them questions. With animals, you can make them do things. Not with babies” Angela Saini  on UCL’s BabyLab

“I developed digital gophers…” Mystery of Mima mounds, large geo features, may be solved: gophers!

Gene Therapy Keeps ‘Bubble Boy’ Disease At Bay In 8 Children

Skeleton shrimp have taken the basic amphipod body plan and dialed all the features to “scary”.

Lisa Adams continues her fascinating series about what it’s actually like to take part in a cancer trial.

“You’ll see detached arms crawling away from their body.” What’s killing starfish along America’s Pacific coast?

Duons? Really? Alex Riley and Emily Willingham counter the hype in a ridiculous press release.

Baby Suriname toads emerging from mom’s back

Pavlov’s obscure, retracted, and lasting endorsement of Lamarckian inheritance.

What does that genes-and-schooling twin study tell us?

Some katydids can hear each other BETTER amid the din of another species.

The science of “hearing voices“—Vaughan Bell’s new PLOS paper on auditory verbal hallucinations.

When it comes to pandemics, it’s connectedness not distance that matters.


Benedict Cumberbatch does a dramatic reading of R.Kelly lyrics.

Bacterial Transfer by Blowing Out Birthday Cake Candles

Paint on a speaker. Awesome.

The Animal Penis Activity Book (crayons included)

Goattendammerung. Goats run away from an avalanche

You can fry potatoes more effectively if you triple the strength of gravity. SCIENCE!


Amy Harmon talks about the process and pain of constructing great long-form science narratives

“If we behave like facts don’t matter, then one day they won’t.” – Bobbie Johnson on the value of fact-checking

Remember that Esquire piece on “a whole new way of killing cancer”? Paul Raeburn kicks it so hard his foot must be broken. The authors respond.

I like Michelle Nijhuis’ piece on science writing and telling human stories, but let’s not forget about how cool the rattlesnake is too, eh?

“All my habits are bad. Not Baudelaire bad, just nothing that helps my writing.” A day in the life of Carl Zimmer.

Bookmarked the NYT’s homeless child story for later, but holy %*^&, look at the source notes!

A shoulder pad that lets you sense security cameras. In London, wld be more useful if it detected their absence.