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I’ve Got Your Missing Links Right Here (26 April 2014)

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Top picks

This is a longread about fungal taxonomy and it’s fabulous. Begins in the Fort Knox of fungus. Seriously, read it. By Susan Milius.

Killing pain without doing harm. Maia Szalavitz on the quest for painkillers that don’t promote abuse.

Ann Finkbeiner writes about truth and beauty in “literary” science writing, and she’s absolutely right. Can’t recommend it strongly enough.

Wisdom of crowds works better with smaller crowds. By Carl Zimmer.

Don’t worry, I’m no longer contagious.” Actually, your microbiology sucks. Also get the hell away from me. By Jenny Rohn.

Thousands of unconscious patients are trapped between life & death. Here’s Roger Highfield on the scientists who are trying to free them.

The remarkable postmortem journey of Einstein’s not-that-special brain By Virginia Hughes.

George Johnson on the futile and largely failed quest to find dietary risk factors for cancer

Is there a link between IUDs and abortions? Maggie Koerth-Baker wades through the scientific minefield

He hacks the scam artists who target the poorest people. Can he make a difference? Danny Bradbury discusses for Matter.

Mexico City gets powerful earthquakes because it’s basically on a huge geological loudspeaker. Fascinating by Erik Vance.

Why Are Doctors Skeptical & Unhelpful about Chronic Fatigue Syndrome? A twoparter by Julie Rehmeyer

Their microphones are stethoscopes pressed to Mother Nature’s chest.” Beautiful piece on scientists recording nature, by Brandon Keim.




Scientists build robotic female sage grouse.

From epigenetics to ENCODE—a report from a conference on hype in science

Definitely write SCIENCE on the side of your science vessel so that people know what it does.

Head of committee looking into STAP stem cell case resigns over allegations about his own work

Science communication book to be pulped because much of it–including bits on plagiarism–were plagiarised.

Rather than vacuous pontificating, we need actual research into vaccine hesitancy. Seth Mnookin and colleagues outline an agenda

How sea level influenced evolution in the Galapagos

This is one of the most important organisms on the planet, and it’s more diverse than anyone had guessed. http://t.co/ncMCPolKPv

The Y chromosome isn’t vanishing; it’s few remaining stalwart genes are still important

These dolphins use sponges as tools, and it has changed their diet.

Jumping spiders are the corgis of the spider world.”

“This is an insect that breast-feeds its children.” – on the tsetse fly genome. And here’s a cool thing about the paper that the NYT missed: they did its microbiome at the same time.

Apparently, the Sokal-Jr. sting is now a genre. And please: it’s not THAT hard to spot the fake journals

The blue-footed booby–an icon of the Galapagos–has basically stopped breeding there.

Quacks like a duck, actually a whale

Embarrassing Evolutionary Psychology Hypothesis of the Week.

Why Do We Socialize? Annalee Newitz on a new hypothesis.

“Mincing & microwaving chunks of the reptiles’ fat in their lab…” Biodiesel From Alligators.

“In 1996, Jeffrey Black at Cambridge University compiled a table of bird divorce rates    

How bark beetles affect the waters of the Rockies. (But not just beetles. It’s their fungi and bacteria too.)

The ongoing gynosome/penis debate continues, as Jason Goldman invokes Pluto, Brontosaurus and AV Flox.



Oh, evolution. You were doing so well with the lynx.

Watch this mouse tear into a scorpion in slow-motion while shrugging off stings to its face

“WORLD IS FUKT” runs on front page on Australian newspaper

I could watch hours of video of people spinning things in cool ways.

A collection of technicolor dreamscapes that are actual places

Chinese zodiac, reimagined with Chinese dinosaurs. Really cool mappings.

A collection of gorgeous palaeo-art by Julius Csotonyi

The surreal Tatio geyser field of Chile looks oddly fungal.

An amazingly honest methods section.

HA! I hope that Wednesday’s crowd also attends Tuesday’s lecture

At what speed would you have to drive for rain to shatter your windshield?



“Everyone who [took] time of of their busy schedules to correct my grammar in this, a casual blog: you’re wrong.”

Retraction Watch is offering a paid internship. This is a great opportunity for an early career journalist.

The New Yorker covers the NYT’s most prolific letter writer. She writes them a letter

I’d love to have seen the look on the editor’s face when he got that email

Alexis Madrigal: Flowcharts of songs are the devil’s work. Robinson Meyer: Nope, they’re part of a great tradition.

“The granularity of “no” does not exist.” Chuck Wendig on Game of Thrones, and the use of rape in fiction.

“A woman exercises her reproductive rights, and Twitter burns.”

“What I do at Fusion will be post-text.” This after 941 words of text that felt like flossing between my ears.



3 thoughts on “I’ve Got Your Missing Links Right Here (26 April 2014)

  1. Galapagos:
    I often wonder why there are no marine lizards apart from Amblyrhynchus if lizards elsewhere have adapted to salty mangrove habitats or hunting crustaceans in rock pools (OTOH one of the small iguanians has a huge salt gland apparatus, according to one of Coburn’s popular books.) I often wonder why lizards haven’t moved into the sea more often since the mosasaurs, since a coastal monitor or lacertid would hardly compete with sharks or marine mammals. Why only in the Galapagos are lizards exploiting a fully marine habitat?

    Julius Costonyi:
    Wow just awesome, with a touch of the All Yesterdays about his work – I would never have thought of a shark attacking a poroboscidean, but today elephants swim out to sea and have been witnessed in combat with aquatic predators such as crocodiles. I came across Csotonyi on Twitter before and felt immediately impressed by his paleoart. Speaking of swimming elephants I often wonder why there were none on Madagascar given that they normally co-colonise together with hippos.

    Baby crying:
    No surprise since wet nursing was formerly an important factor in child spacing. People like Gayre suggested African overpopulation today is the result of colonial governments imposing missionary attitudes on African people disrupting native childrearing behaviour.

    Non-scvience bits about Cunningham/tabloids and GoT:
    If mere fiction like Game of Thrones has to pussyfoot around taboo subject matter, some people can think a little more of infertile women and those who suffered miscarriages (oh wait that’s different.) This goes not only for the vile Josie Cunningham and the people defending her selfishness after the nation spoke, but also tabloids faking outrage whilst paying her for the story. Needless to say the negative attention and “bullying” was obviously courted by Cunningham with their help, and many of the messages contrasted Cunningham’s fifteen minutes of fame to their own personal loss. After watching that Twitter tag explode like a car crash I actually alerted Jon Haidt since the explosion of public reaction ought to be up his street – it was fascinating to see so many similarly outraged people from diverse political and social backgrounds.

  2. Dear Ed,
    I always only read a fraction of the stories you put out on “Missing Links,” but I always feel a profound emotion, whether it be sadness or surprise, so thank you. The one that Ann Finkbeiner wrote was inspiring for me as a student. Now I’ll probably use literary devices for when I write science reports or essays. I wonder if you have read any of my comments since there’s been no reply. Do you try to read as many comments as possible? Do you usually enjoy reading them or are they tiring to read?

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