I’ve Got Your Missing Links Right Here (4 July 2015)

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Top picks

“Once that fluid had been a mortal danger; now it was a valuable commodity.” Erika Check Hayden writes about the biological secrets hidden in the blood of Ebola survivors, and a literal race to get their samples on a plane. Thrillingly structured, keenly reported, beautifully written—this is an A+ journalist operating at the top of her game.

In 1950, the US military laced Karl the Fog with opportunistic bacteria to simulate a bioterror attack on San Francisco. By Rebecca Kreston.

Sometimes chimps dance and then get very peaceful at waterfalls. What are they feeling? Brandon Keim discusses.

Rewrite the textbooks! No, seriously, rewrite them. Because they’re wrong about psychology’s most famous case study. By Christian Jarrett.

On Crohn’s, MERS, Creutzfeld-Jacob, and the etiquette of naming diseases. Great Alastair Gee piece.

This is great: Did Kirsten Tatlow at the NYT interviewed several Chinese bioethicists about the country’s attitude to CRISPR embryo-editing

That translucent tube is the larva’s highly mobile anus, which is a sentence I just wrote.” Nick Stockton on the wonderful colour-changing tortoise beetle.

“Who Owns Your Face?” Robinson Meyer on the ethics of facial recognition technology

Matthew Francis is spot-on: let’s stop deifying Nobel laureates.

The most common vertebrate on the planet is… wait, what is that? Amazing story by William J Broad

‘My dentist saved my tooth, but wiped my memory’ by David Robson.

The amazing muscular origami of the vagina, and more tales of sex and reproduction, from the wonderful Diane Kelly.

Nobel Prizes aren’t magic medals of blamelessness. By Maki Naro.

A beautifully written piece about Pluto’s discovery and future, by the best space writer around, Nadia Drake


For 11 months of their lives, the kittens of saber-toothed cats had FOUR sabre-teeth–the milk and adult pairs.

How your brain links people and places. Cool new update on the “Jennifer Aniston neuron” line of research

The National Eagle Repository may not be picky about what birds come to them…”

This Mom Is Mad At Jim Carrey For Tweeting A Photo Of Her Son With Autism

Super-muscly pigs created by small genetic tweak

The spider so fast it’s nicknamed the “Kalahari Ferrari

The Five Most Gruesome Dinosaur Injuries Ever Discovered

The strawberry squid and its one weird glowing eye.

Here is the 2nd edition of Carl Zimmer’s Planet of Viruses and here is a joke about viral marketing

Enthusiasm for “100% accurate” pancreatic cancer test does not reflect limited evidence quality.

Antibiotics in childhood affects gut microbes, can lead to lifelong obesity, study finds.” No, it doesn’t. It finds that in mice, and the author’s own papers argue against an effect in humans. See this one, in which, buried in the results, we see that early antibiotic exposure doesn’t lead to sig weight gain by age 7

Super-Spiky Ancient Worm Makes Its Debut

Good piece on the microbiome and the immune system, although I raised an eyebrow at the scientist who says “I think that the role of the microbiota cannot be overstated.”

I’d say these kids got a pretty accurate picture of what science is usually like.

Rats dream about the places they want to explore

Carl Zimmer on the Cambrian Explosion’s strange-looking poster child, and its stranger-looking poster siblings.

Self-healing concrete made with bacteria.

Getting terrible studies published is… a walk in the park. Kudos to Micah Allen for the corrective

Robert Krulwich on the tricky business of making love as a hermaphroditic snail

Scientists unsure why female flies expel sperm and then eat it.

The hunt for the world’s missing carbon

A review of Life’s Greatest Secret by Matthew Cobb

Should you put the baby bird back in its nest? Depends if it’s cute

This is why scientists should study female animals more often: “Male and female mice process pain differently”

“We’re on this planet a short time, so that we cannot remake the world entirely … But I think our decisions matter.” On America’s month of horror and grace.

Long-Exposure Photographs of a New Zealand Cave Illuminated by Glowing Worms

Marsupial mouse survives fire by switching itself off

Nervous sea squirts squirt out their stomachs and grow new ones.

“Here’s the Weird Feature I’d Most Like to See on Pluto”

Can New Research & Old Traditions Save Fiji From Ecological Collapse?

What happens when measles infects unvaccinated people & travels with them? Someone dies.

Meanwhile, in the future: DEATH BY SUPERNOVA

Ballooning spiders can also sail.

Kangaroo arms are adapted for beating the crap out of each other.

One of the worst influenza epidemics of the 19th century affected HORSES.

The bogus “jellyfish invasion” story that one paper didn’t want you to read about



Black rhino protected by anti-poaching police”, and more award-winning photos.

Dolphin jumps into boat, breaks woman’s ankles, punches daughter in the face, gets blood everywhere. Git.

Hello, here’s a video of a baby elephant sneezing and scaring himself, you’re welcome.

A Chrome extension that brings up a random beautiful Google Earth photo with every new tab



Robot grabs and fatally crushes worker at German Volkswagen plant

Were all those rainbow profiles part of another Facebook experiment?

Really excited about this book on the cultural history of national anthems, by my friend Alex Marshall. Out in August.

“Working out how to build ethical robots is one of the thorniest challenges in artificial intelligence.”

Amid the Gladwellisation of non-fiction publishing, let’s embrace books that talk about small ideas.