Friday coffee break

Every Friday at Nothing in Biology Makes Sense! our contributors pass around links to new scientific results, or science-y news, or videos of adorable wildlife, that they’re most likely to bring up while waiting in line for a latte.

From CJ: A list of 17 examples of humorous taxonomic names. No, but really.

Better known as the Conquered Lorikeet, Vini vidivici was a South Pacific parrot that went extinct roughly 700-1300 years ago. The name derives from the phrase “veni, vidi, vici,” which means “I came, I saw, I conquered.

From Sarah: The BBC explores the health effects of your internal microbial ecology.

What experts like Birren are discovering is the powerful role these tiny bugs might be playing in our lives. The 1,000-or-so species of microbes that live in our guts control digestion, and possibly so much more. They are strongly linked with the rise in allergies and asthma, and with digestive problems like Crohn’s disease and colitis. They also influence the immune system, and there is a growing body of evidence suggesting that gut microbes could have an influence on cancer risk. They could also dictate whether we are packing on extra pounds or liable to get diabetes. [Links sic.]

And from Jon: An article in the Journal of the American Medical Association introduces Choosing Wisely, an initiative devoted to avoiding unnecessary medical procedures.

The polarizing political environment makes it difficult to conduct rational public discussions about this issue, but clinicians and consumers can change the nature of this debate to the potential benefit of patients, the medical profession, and the nation. The initial focus should be on overuse of medical resources, which not only is a leading factor in the high level of spending on health care but also places patients at risk of harm. In fact, some estimates suggest that as much as 30% of all health care spending is wasted.
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