Findings — From the February 2011 issue

Findings

Scientists turned white ibises gay by feeding them mercury, found that pale-skinned whales sunburn more easily, discovered a new bacterium in the rust of the Titanic, and confirmed the authenticity of Henry IV of France’s head. Retractions of papers by U.S. scientists, compared with retractions by scientists of other nations, are more often due to fraud. Satsuma snails with counterclockwise shells are less likely than clockwise-shelled snails to be eaten by snail-eater snakes. This advantage, suggested Japanese biologists, may explain why sinistral snails are so successful in spite of having their genitals on the wrong side. Anxiety was observed in elephants who are preparing to raid human crops and in female African cichlid fish who witness their mates losing fights. Elephantulus edwardii shrews were found to prefer the nectar of the pagoda lily to peanut butter with rolled oats and apples. Maraschino cherry nectar was turning Brooklyn bees red. Brown trout have personalities.

Studies of cell-phone records revealed that college-age women call their fathers half as often and talk for only half as long when they are ovulating. The researchers said that this may help avoid inbreeding. As they grow older, female speckled wood butterflies who are still virgins behave more conspicuously to attract males. Obese black and Hispanic American women are more likely than obese white American women to consider themselves too thin. Psychological well-being can ameliorate the generally poorer health of the less educated. American college graduates are worse than non-graduates at reading facial emotions, whereas Spanish college graduates are less afraid of death than their nongraduate counterparts. Deployment to Iraq and Afghanistan worsens the sleep quality of U.S. troops. Sleep-deprived honeybees waggle-dance less accurately; sleep-deprived Swedes are uglier than well-rested ones. Sugary lemonade makes people less aggressive than does lemonade with artificial sweeteners. Doctors tend to give less pain medication to emergency-room patients who were injured while running from the police. Redheads bleed no more than others.

Baby male and female mice were produced from dual fathers, and it may be possible to produce non-cloned mice from a single mouse father. The circadian rhythms of mice are permanently affected by the season in which they were born. The excessive cleanliness of modern life may encourage depression by killing off beneficial bacteria. Neurotic newlyweds who have sex frequently are as happy as non-neurotic couples. Neonaticide in France was found to be five times more prevalent than previously thought. A South Carolina parrot was the sole witness to the death by neglect of a ninety-eight-year-old woman. “Help me, help me,” said the parrot. “Ha ha ha!” Two California teenagers were arrested for strangling two chickens, a Rhode Island red named Linny and an Ameraucana named Maxine. In England, where average annual per-capita income 700 years ago was calculated to have been $800 in 1990 dollars, a flutist stole 299 rare bird skins from an ornithology museum in order to pay for a new flute. Oral sex is rarely or reluctantly received by women who fear their genitals are abnormal. The earth was found to be responsible for the asymmetric bulge of the moon’s Lunar Farside Highlands. Scientists claimed to have found the first life that uses arsenic rather than phosphorus in its DNA and observed echoes of the universe from before the Big Bang. Particle physicists were optimistic about the possibility of creating something out of nothing, because nothing is actually something. The U.N. announced plans to launch a satellite powered by feces.

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