Findings — From the September 2011 issue
SIGN IN to access Harper’s Magazine
1. Sign in to Customer Care using your account number or postal address.
2. Select Email/Password Information.
3. Enter your new information and click on Save My Changes.
Subscribers can find additional help here. Not a subscriber? Subscribe today!
Scientists rediscovered Borneo’s rainbow toads and discovered seven new species of Philippine forest mice, a new genus of blind Bulgarian beetles, four new species of jewel beetles, and six new species of New World micromoths. A great Mormon butterfly born in London’s Natural History Museum was observed to be male on its left side and female on its right. Cod mislabeling in Ireland and casual prostitution in Wales were rampant. A Cumbrian owl left a powder-down imprint of its entire body on a window. British scientists concluded that seventeen skeletons found recently in a well in Norwich were Jewish, and in the Orkney Islands, more than a thousand human bones were unearthed in the Tomb of the Otters. Middle-aged Chinese men are culturally disposed toward binge drinking, and Chinese adolescents who exercise frequently, eat their vegetables, and avoid sweets are likelier than those who do not to be fat. Boys in Taiwan are likelier than girls to vomit in order to lose weight. High levels of menthol-cigarette advertising were noted near California high schools whose students are predominantly African-American. African Americans’ eyes contain more oxygen than the eyes of whites.
The existence of the Lunch Effect in Spain was established, doctors pinpointed the origins of Barrett’s Esophagus, and U.S. Department of Energy researchers broke Kasha’s Rule. Anti-π activists celebrated Tau Day. “People find themselves almost violently angry at π,” explained theoretical physicist Michael Hartl. “They feel like they’ve been lied to their whole lives.” A lack of variation among verbs and nouns in finance reporting was found to precede market bubbles. Economic recession had caused European birthrates to stagnate. Dominant female mongooses expend substantial energy bullying younger females not to breed, and alpha-male bluestreak cleaner wrasse fish punish females who eat the rich mucus of the wrasses’ client fish (and thereby threaten to scare off those clients) as well as females who eat too many client parasites (and thereby threaten to transform themselves into male wrasses) commensurately with the degree of the females’ offense. Among Uganda’s Budongo chimpanzees, primatologists observed routine postcoital penis-cleaning. Sleeping babies register the crying of others.
German police were disappointed in the performance of Sherlock Holmes, a cadaver vulture, who confuses animal and human remains and prefers walking to flying; junior cadaver vultures Miss Marple and Columbo, said the birds’ trainer, “can’t do anything besides fight with each other.” Finches in whose brains a Japanese ornithologist destroyed the anterior nidopallium lost the ability to recognize ungrammatical birdsong. The hole-punching of clouds by planes was found to increase snow near airports. Ovulation improves straight women’s gaydar. Male black widows tend to avoid females who have been starved by scientists and prefer instead to mate with well-fed females, who are less likely to eat them and whose satiety the males can smell, through their feet, in the silk of the females’ webs. Palpimanus gibbulus spider-eating spiders will succeed in devouring Cyrba algerina spider-eating spiders 90 percent of the time; the other 10 percent of the time P. gibbulus will itself be eaten. Ladybugs occasionally recover their own will after parasitic wasp larva zombification, and Puerto Rican anoles can unlearn. Researchers at the University of Twente found that the Wave of Death exhibited by rat brains one minute after decapitation does not, as previously assumed, indicate brain death. Scientists observed the double beating of a tarantula’s heart.
More from Rafil Kroll-Zaidi: