Findings — From the April 2010 issue

Findings

Researchers established that American birth weights are declining, that the babies of Indian child brides are at greater risk for malnutrition, and that sharks born to virgin mothers—contrary to prior assumptions—sometimes reach adulthood. The saltmarsh sparrow was found to be the world’s most promiscuous bird, and it was discovered that if a mouse is promiscuous, its sperms will sometimes cooperate with one another in order to defeat those of other males. The majority of young Swedish women are attracted to both men and women, and a quarter of British women over the age of 35 never have sex. An American cougar died of the plague. Among wild great tits, relative curiosity is genetically determined, and male tits with brighter plumage have better sperm. Ornithologists reported that flattening the crests or whiskers of auklets made the birds 2.5 times more likely to bump their heads in the dark.

Scientists suspected a spectacled owl (Pulsatrix perspicillata) in the case of a Panamanian three-toed sloth (Bradypus variegatus) that was found with its internal organs eaten and that was likely killed on its weekly trip to the bathroom. A prominent criminologist posited that the low prices of Chinese consumer goods had rendered burglars “redundant” in Britain and had driven many would-be burglars to mugging. Mei Lan, a panda recently returned to China from Atlanta, was being weaned off her American diet and taught Sichuan dialect. Prairie dogs have a word for “badger.” Boa, the last speaker of Bo, died. Paleontologists found that one dinosaur’s protofeathers were orange. Depressed people tend to feel gray rather than blue, whereas people who are not depressed generally feel yellow. Marta, a Congolese bonobo, stole and ate Olivia, the baby of Olga, in the first recorded instance of bonobo cannibalism; Olga also ate some of Olivia. In Gloucestershire, two swans divorced and an otter had taken to climbing trees. The universe was determined to be thirty times more entropic than previously thought. There was never any primordial soup.

Spanish men experience too little guilt, and people with damage to the posterior parietal cortex are likelier to experience self-transcendence. Neuroscientists engineered fruit flies with shorter attention spans; they then fed some of the flies Ritalin. It was found that bees prefer nectar that contains caffeine and nicotine, that stingless Trigona carbonaria bees encase their enemies in resin, and that honeybees who waggle-dance are head-butted by their hivemates, when danger is present, to stop their waggling. Australian scientists analyzed the landing strategies of bees; other Australian scientists hoped to train bees to pollinate specific crops. It was suggested that New Zealand’s non-native wool carder bees, which love catnip, may threaten other species of solitary bee. The International Bee Research Association reported steady declines in populations of European beekeepers. Sick ants leave the nest, voluntarily, in order to die alone. Bees can remember human faces, but only if they are tricked into thinking that we are strange flowers.

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