Findings — From the November 2014 issue

Findings

A Thai woman fed herself to crocodiles. Invasive Japanese stiltgrass, in preventing wolf spiders from finding and cannibalizing one another, was causing the spiders to eat more young American toads. The umami receptor that in swifts and chickens detects savory proteins has in hummingbirds evolved to detect sweetness, the hematophagy of vampire bats may be responsible for their loss of the ability to taste bitterness, and the scat of Maharashtrian leopards revealed a diet preponderant in dogs. An estimated 75 percent of non-neophobic, environmentally conscious young male Flemings with weak attitudes toward meat would be willing to eat insects. The paleolithic diet in Spain, as compared with the rest of the Mediterranean, included snails 10,000 years earlier. A team of Norwegian doctors suggested that being overweight produces a chronic inflammatory immune response. “Mankind’s great challenge has consisted in obtaining sufficient food and surviving infections,” said one of the study’s authors. “Today, we rarely die of infections, but on the other hand we eat too much.” NASA’s Curiosity rover reached Mount Sharp after two years of driving across Mars. “We have finally,” said project scientist John Grotzinger, “arrived at the far frontier we have sought for so long.”

Black and Hispanic U.S. teenage boys enjoy e-cigarettes’ perceived discreetness, healthfulness, and social approval. Study participants told researchers, “You can hit it and put it in your pocket quick and not be caught”; “It is healthier than smoking a cigarette because cigarettes got all those chemicals in the shit”; and “It is cool to smoke on it; my friends be like, ‘What is that? That is cool.’ ” Researchers at the Simulated Hazardous Operational Tasks Laboratory found that Americans feel more threatened by simulated suspects who are black but take longer (1.61 vs. 1.37 seconds) to shoot armed black suspects than to shoot armed white suspects, and are much less likely to shoot unarmed black suspects by mistake. A green fabric doll’s head sewn onto a footed sleeper filled with seven to eight pounds of rice caused expectant heterosexual couples to treat each other much as they did after the arrival of their babies. Young Kansan women are likelier to hit pedestrians; young men, to crash after sunset. High levels of daily sunshine for up to ten days produce a higher suicide rate, particularly in women, whereas high levels for longer than fourteen days produce a lower suicide rate, particularly in men. Solar reactions with sunblock were blamed for the summertime spike in hydrogen-peroxide levels in Mediterranean coastal waters. Recent droughts have caused California’s mountains to rise by half an inch. Instances of father-daughter inbreeding and of fratricide were noted among the mountain lions of the Santa Monica Mountains, who are unable to disperse because of the 101, the 405, and the 5, with the exception of a male, P-22, who is trapped in the Hollywood Hills.

People are more effectively deceived by the self-deceived, intelligent psychopaths can fake emotional response sufficiently to fool psychopathy tests, and psychologists determined that a highly accurate test for detecting narcissism is to ask people whether they are narcissists. A Chinese woman hospitalized with complaints of dizziness and nausea was found to be missing her cerebellum, and an Italian urologist who reviewed sixty years of data concluded that the G-spot does not exist, while noting that the vagina “must be respected.” The surest predictor of sexual assault for college women is the victim’s having already been sexually assaulted while in college. Dodder plants who attack tomatoes and rock cress were found to exchange genetic information with the victim plants. American men are usually raped by other men but coerced to penetration predominantly by women. Two women in Ottawa were cured of stiff-man syndrome.

Photographs by Annie Marie Musselman from an animal-rehabilitation center in Arlington, Washington. From Finding Trust, published last year by Kehrer Verlag. Courtesy the artist and Kehrer Verlag, Heidelberg, Germany

Photographs by Annie Marie Musselman from an animal-rehabilitation center in Arlington, Washington. From Finding Trust, published last year by Kehrer Verlag. Courtesy the artist and Kehrer Verlag, Heidelberg, Germany

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