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“Orange Pushy,” “Landscape,” and “Threesome,” photographs by Erin O’Keefe © The artist. Courtesy Denny Dimin Gallery, New York City

“Orange Pushy,” “Landscape,” and “Threesome,” photographs by Erin O’Keefe
© The artist. Courtesy Denny Dimin Gallery, New York City

Americans who are old, white, uneducated, unemployed, and live in someone else’s house at no cost to themselves are especially unlikely to wear face masks. Darker-skinned white people tend to cling to their whiteness. Pelagic fish with ultra-black skin can hide in plain sight, and darkling beetle larvae can digest polystyrene. Parisian honey contains lead from the burning of Notre-Dame. Falling levels of iron in seawater were loosening the grip of mussels. The muscles of European sea bass contain little plastic, but the stomachs of British demersal sharks contain significant quantities. Florida’s 2019 Ultra Music Festival was found to have nearly quintupled the stress levels of toadfish. Lockdowns were found to have caused a global halving of anthropogenic seismic vibrations. Face masks were increasingly winding up in the sea.

Hypersexual male zombie cicadas infected with psychoactive fungus, which scientists have warned humans not to consume, were found to engage in alluring feminine wing-flicking, which attracts other males who also become infected. An Indian man stood still for seven hours as a snake charmer freed a cobra from his pants. A survey of respondents recruited on the Reddit page r/EveryManShouldKnow, and excluding data from subreddits such as r/SemenRetention and r/MuslimNoFap, showed abstinence motivation to be related to conservatism, religiosity, and lower trust in science. An analysis of late-eighteenth-century hospital records, particularly those of foul wards, indicated that one fifth of Londoners had syphilis by their mid-thirties; crockery analysis suggested that the Norman Conquest increased English pork consumption; and genomic analysis of Polynesians revealed that Native Americans reached remote Pacific Islands in the mid-twelfth century. Neanderthals may have had lower pain thresholds than modern humans, who were found to retain a vestigial ability to perk up their ears. Scientists unveiled a new formula for calculating dog years.

The bystander effect was observed in rats. A graduate student re-created the skull of the giant dormouse. A fossilized cannibal owl was found preserved in volcanic ash, and thirty-two genes were determined to be responsible for turning mandarin fish into cannibals. Scientists admitted to having accidentally hybridized the Russian sturgeon and American paddlefish, creating the sturddlefish, and reanimated 100-million-year-old bacteria from the deep ocean. European river flooding, formerly driven by cold weather, is now being driven by warm weather. Texas will soon be drier than it has been at any time in the past millennium. Rising temperatures may prove catastrophic to the germination of half of all tropical plant species, and spring snowmelts were boosting the carbon emissions of Arctic soil. Aardvarks in the Kalahari are increasingly seen in the daytime, and narcissists don’t make mistakes, according to narcissists. A strain of the novel goose parvovirus causing short-beak-and-dwarfism syndrome was isolated from Jing-Xi partridge ducks. A juvenile chihuahua who presented with hypoglycemia and collapse, and who was observed to have retained her coat of puppy hair and deciduous teeth, was diagnosed with dwarfism. Past trauma is visible in pupillary response. Positive results were reported in trials of Bald’s eyesalve, a medieval formulation consisting of bile salts, garlic, onion, and wine. Suspicions about placebos can create a “lessebo” effect, reducing the efficacy of real drugs. In the United States, opioid deaths were rising again, industrial workers on amphetamine were dying of hyperthermia, and a proposed model for heatstroke among military working dogs declined to calculate thermal transfer via the belly and paws.

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October 2020