I’ve Got Your Missing Links Right Here (23 August 2014)

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Top picks

Turns out there are many good reasons why you’d want to brain-scan dead people. Vaughan Bell discusses.

“But like all fairy tales, the one about talking apes is partly make-believe.” Jane Hu on the strange, disturbing world of Koko the gorilla and Kanzi the bonobo.

Dandruff-causing fungus unexpectedly discovered in deep sea vents, Antarctica, eel guts, corals. Fascinating story from Jennifer Frazer

That lovely smell after the rain is called “petrichor“. It’s also a signal for plants. By Joe Hanson.

A new study on what happens when people feel “in the zone“, by Virginia Hughes who seems to live there permanently

This really is a wonderful piece about breaking into a secret ecosystem, trapped in ice. By Douglas Fox.

“No government wants to be seen as pro-killer-robot.” This Rose Eveleth piece has the best quotes.

Yes, this! “Microbiome science needs a healthy dose of scepticism”

A stunning, beautiful, moving piece by Brooke Jarvis on meeting the people most affected by climate change

250 boxes full of 13,000 grasshoppers, forgotten for 50 years, could tell us interesting things about climate change. By Stephanie Paige Ogburn

“When I try to recall my life before my fifth birthday, I can summon only these glimmers—these match strikes in the dark.” Ferris Jabr on where your childhood memories went.

Fantastic piece by Jessica Wapner on the social side of HIV, and how poverty and prejudice makes things easier for the virus



This bird can build nests so enormous that they damage trees

A newly discovered species: the fuzzy-faced dinagat-garaga tarsier

Nature’s greatest misses: Papers that triumphed over their rejections

Somewhere, a birdwatcher has just torn up their life list in rage.

New ant species evolved within the nest of its relatives

The first baby born under anaesthesia wasn’t called Anaesthesia

If you’re born on a plane, what would your nationality be? Fascinating discussion from Robert Krulwich

Good news: There’s a good animal model for MERS. Bad news: it’s marmosets. (Which is bad news for rather interesting reasons.)

The extinction of Neanderthals as compared to a game of Risk.

Apparently killing elephants isn’t enough. Poachers are poisoning vultures so they won’t give away location.

Amazing before-and-after pics of the California drought

Time gets in-depth access to Fukushima, and “the world’s most dangerous room”.

Right to arm bears: Grizzlies learning to use tools.

I’m being cynical, but this latest brain-computer interface thing seems like an overengineered gimmick. Using brainwaves to send messages over the internet, eh? I have hands.

Permanently seagoing crocodiles evolved on five separate occasions before going extinct.

Rosetta reached its comet destination, but it was also snapping pics along the way.

The pufferfish’s lethal poison shows up right under our feet.

“I’m a BSL-4 pathogen too! I cause haemorrhaging too! I have a high fatality rate too!” says Marburg virus. But no one listens. Always “a close relative of Ebola”. Poor Marburg. You matter to me.

A special issue of National Geographic about dinosaurs, with text by our own Brian Switek.

City life is making some spiders grow bigger and have more babies.

When covering research on prenatal stuff, let’s all try to remember: Don’t blame mothers.

Can the crowd solve medical mysteries?

Today in Underpowered Overgeneralised Social Science Studies that You Can Nonetheless Use to Confirm Your Biases

At current rates, around 7% of African elephants are poached every year.

“When a snake climbs a tree, it squeezes the trunk up to five times harder than necessary”

Beautiful and sad GIFs show what’s happening to the ocean

Wolves cooperate. Dogs submit.

Does it matter if sugar pills aren’t medicine if they help an underserved group w/ mental illness?

Another way that Ebola kills: Clinics are turning away pregnant women (& others) for fear of the disease

“The evidence in favor of this hypothesis is thinner than Always Infinity menstrual pads.” – Kate Clancy on another terrible evolutionary psychology paper.

Researchers discover area of genome linked to growth differs between pygmies and their taller neighbors

Turning Information Into Impact: Digital Health’s Long Road Ahead.

How scientists upgraded ‘Alvin’ into a superpowered sub

How to make an evidence-based public health awareness campaign. Petra Boynton talks about her experience.

Algae are like an ‘evolutionary time machine’ that shows us a possible origin for males and females

The walking hallucination gets a spot on the tree of life

“This is an outrageous abuse of the peer review process.” On two papers about the “hobbit”, Down’s syndrome, and more PNAS problems


“They developed an algorithm that can take any solid 3D object and turn it into a top.”

Staggering photo of a swarm of jellyfish

The inevitable outcome of Dawkins’ descent

This Microscopic Footage Shows What Happens When A Jellyfish Stings You

A sphere made of 130 binder clips.


“I have never stopped loving you,” he wrote in code, 62 yrs after they last met. She got the message.

“Freelancing is like the final scene from Braveheart… screaming FREEDOM while being disembowelled.” Me and others on freelancing.

Jess Zimmerman on the ice bucket challenge.

The Twitter bird flies into the screw-up tree and hits every branch on the way down.

The Verge is running a fiction series, styled as journalistic longreads. It’s great. Malcolm Gladwell wants his shtick back.