Findings — From the August 2010 issue
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Economic hardship in the United States was linked to an increase in abusive head trauma among children; a different study concluded that the winter holidays do not encourage Americans to abuse their children. Doctors identified the gene responsible for urofacial syndrome, which causes those afflicted to leak feces and urine and to grimace when they try to smile. Excessive burger consumption was correlated with wheezing in children. Herpes continued to ravage France’s baby oysters. Sixty-one percent of African Americans, 40 percent of Hispanic Americans, and only 23 percent of white Americans use lubricants during anal sex. Pond snails on crystal meth are better at remembering pokes from a sharp stick. Scientists created crash helmets that stink when cracked and fruit flies to whom blue light smells delicious.
A giant grenadier, a gonate squid, and a pelagic eelpout, all native to the North Pacific, were captured in the South Atlantic, 9,300 miles from home. In England, a rare shrew that stowed away on a ferry to Penzance was repatriated to the Isles of Scilly. The male hedgehogs of Bristol were found to take greater risks than females in choosing their human yards, and the county council of Leicestershire distributed 200 tennis balls as homes for harvest mice. Scientists and customs officials, by reassembling the skeletons of butchered animals seized at Paris’s Charles de Gaulle airport, estimated that the airport annually receives some 300 tons of illegal bushmeat, including blue duiker, brush-tailed porcupine, cane rat, crested porcupine, giant pangolin, long-tailed pangolin, Nile crocodile, red river hog, slender-snouted crocodile, and unidentified species of Cercocebus and Cercopithecus monkeys. French researchers reported that 52 percent of young women exposed to Francis Cabrel’s ballad “Je l’aime à mourir” gave their phone numbers to an average-looking young man who hit on them, whereas only 28 percent of those exposed to Vincent Delerm’s “L’heure du thé” did so. Physicists recorded the “music” made by the sun’s corona and described the sounds made by subatomic particles. The moon may be 120 million years younger and much more watery than previously thought. Sherpas warned that global warming was making it more difficult to climb Mt. Everest.
African leaders discussed plans to create a nine-mile-wide, 4,800-mile-long barrier of trees, spanning the continent from Senegal to Djibouti, to check the spread of the Sahara. Male topi antelope who issue alarm snorts to imaginary predators in the presence of a female antelope in heat make the female more likely to linger in the male’s territory and have sex; scientists estimated that male antelope gain, on average, 2.8 additional mating opportunities per female per episode of deceptive snorting. Peru was found to have overtaken Colombia in coca production, heroin addiction in Afghanistan was determined to have risen by 140 percent since 2005, and roughly 80 percent of U.S. cocaine was thought to be contaminated with a drug that causes skin tissues to rot. Many Afghans continued using opium to placate their children. The U.N. World Drug Report found that 3.7 percent of Scots and 0 percent of Romanians use cocaine. Sudden oak death arrived in Wales. English scientists determined that the proto-birds Archaeopteryx and Confuciusornis were not capable of flapping flight. “These dinosaurs,” said Robert Nudds of the University of Manchester, “were rubbish at flying.”
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