I’ve Got Your Missing Links Right Here (9 September 2014)

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Top picks

On the roadside where Mandela’s 27-year-arrest began, a most extraordinary monument has been built. By Robert Krulwich.

You camera is a “species discovery engine”. Rose Eveleth on the coming age of the Internet naturalist

The weirdest jaws that ever evolved? They surely have to be the coiled buzzsaw jaws of this extinct ratfish. By Brian Switek

Can you distil the complexity of ecology into just a few variables that let you predict the number of species in a forest from just a small piece of land? Veronique Greenwood meets a man who thinks so.

Scientists have discovered a new… animal, maybe? Looks like a mushroom. Could be a new phylum of animal. No one knows. Jennifer Frazer reports, with extras on her blog.

Neuro(pseudo)science is being used to spread quackery in business and education. Excellent and sorely needed piece by Matt Wall.

How movies trick your brain into empathising with characters. Part of a great series from Greg Miller about the neuroscience of cinema.

Pointing with your index finger is WEIRD. Virginia Hughes discusses a group of people with a different method of pointing.

52 Blue: a singular and wonderful piece by Leslie Jamison, about a blue whale, alone and repeatedly calling at frequencies inaudible to its own kind, and a woman whose life is transformed by its story.

Coffee plants evolved caffeine to kill competitors and possibly to manipulate animals. MANIPULATE ME MORE, COFFEE. By Carl Zimmer.

Nadia Drake provides a measured, incisive, and much-needed corrective to the Columbia Journalism Review’s fawning piece on I F*cking Love Science. Key point: “Having a large, loyal audience does not make you immune to the rules – if anything, it makes you even more beholden to them.”



“WHO’S COMMON NOW, BASTARDS?” said the common octopus, probably.

Flexible circuit board can be “stretched, folded, washed, wrinkled, and even shot with bullets.”

What happens when people who are blind from birth start to see? No Hollywood magic, for starters.

Curiosity: ranked #7 out of 7 planetary missions in RoverAdvisor.

How cuts in WHO budget may have led to “too little too late” Ebola response

Congratulations to Alice Roberts on the publication of her new book The Incredible Unlikeliness of Being

This ingenious central heating system uses polar bears to heat elephants.

Life outside the lab: What happened to the scientists who got away?

CDC’s director after returning from Ebola zone: “The window of opportunity really is closing.”

A scientist spent 20 years in trees to prove an 80-yr-old hypothesis about them

The Icelandic volcano that erupted last weekend is called “Bárður’s bulge” after a 10thC guy called Bárður.

Wild marmosets “can learn skills by watching instructional videos”. DON’T SHOW THEM DAWN OF THE PLANET OF THE APES.

An 1833 meteor storm started citizen science

How corals stir up their world. They’re not just sitting there…

Science has doubled the life expectancy of people with cystic fibrosis.

How the impressive long-jawed orb-weaving spiders use their jaws during mating.

Whales kept their hips, because penis. Carl Zimmer on “The Erotic Endurance of Whale Hips”.

Want to get into science writing? My best tip: write ALL THE TIME. And so, I totally support Signe Cane’s 365 project

Money can buy happine… wait a minute, you log’d the x-axis?!?

The Internet probably isn’t ruining your teenager’s brain

Ka’apor warriors hunt down and capture illegal loggers in the Amazon.

What’s up with Nature’s recent torrent of retractions?

In light of new archerfish news, do read Aatish Bhatia’s amazing post on them

Ostracods light up when eaten to draw attention to the fish, who then spits them out!



Child Development Experts Say Boys Not Fully Mature Until Avenging Father’s Murder

Oh god. If you are an author, don’t respond in the comments section of your book reviews.



98.5% of stolen art is never recovered. So why don’t museums put trackers on everything?

Everyone: “TWITTER, WHY?” Twitter: “Cos monkey press lever, monkey no get snack, monkey sad.”

The nude photo leak scandal isn’t about iPhones. It’s about women being shamed, objectified, and treated like property.

“My greatest frustrations with Twitter come not from people who are being nasty but from people who just misunderstand”

And a brief hiatus…

Missing links will be gone for two weeks while I’m on holiday.