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 Amy – Test your science IQ with a Pew Research Center Science Quiz.
From Noah – The first submission to the Annals of Ignominious Evolutionary Psychology. Did you know our hunter-gatherer evolutionary history is the reason people say nasty things about Amanda Knox on the internet? Yeah, neither did we. (Warning – there’s some nasty language.)
In our evolutionary past, small groups of hunter-gatherers needed enforcers, individuals who took it upon themselves to punish slackers and transgressors to maintain group cohesion. We evolved this way. As a result, some people are born to be punishers. They are hard-wired for it.
Also from Noah – An interview with Tim Gallagher on tracking the Imperial Woodpecker through Mexico (on the Diane Rehm Show).

Gallagher relays his current pursuit to save the giant imperial woodpecker of Mexico’s Sierra Madre Mountains. No one knows whether this rare bird is extinct. Gallagher describes his dangerous expedition into this remote region of Geronimo and Pancho Villa where he dodged armed drug traffickers and kidnappers.

The giant moray eel can grow to three metres in length and bites its prey with two sets of jaws—the obvious ones and a second set in its throat that can be launched forward like Hollywood’s Alien. It’s not a creature to be trifled with. But the coral grouper not only seeks out giant morays, but actively rouses them by vigorously shaking its body. The move is a call to arms that tells the moray to join the grouper in a hunt.
Also from Jeremy – MMMMMM, skunk cabbage!
Smelling like a zombie works out well for the plant known as skunk cabbage. The species is featured on the third full episode of the “Plants are Cool, Too!” video series. Hosted by Dr. Chris Martine (Bucknell University) with special guest Dr. Rachel Schultz (SUNY Plattsburgh), the episode was filmed in the Adirondack Mountain region.
From Sarah – Is there anything microbes can’t do? Listeria and (treating) cancer.
The cancer-targeting microorganism, Listeria monocytogenes, is a rod-shaped bacterium that penetrates the cells of the people and animals that it infects…Because of the bacterium’s ability to burrow inside key immune cells called macrophages, some researchers use weakened Listeria with bits of tumor DNA attached to teach the body’s immune system to recognize and destroy cancerous cells that might otherwise slip by unnoticed.
Also from Sarah – An introduction to social media for us scientists in PLoS Biology.
Although a number of guides exist online, many researchers still feel overwhelmed and hesitant toward the virtual world, lacking sufficient information and guidance through formal scientific channels such as peer-reviewed journals. To better familiarize researchers with existing internet resources, here we discuss prospective benefits that can stem from online science conversations, explain how scientists can efficiently and effectively harness online resources, and provide an overview of popular online tools.
And for more awesome latte art  (Einstein AND Harry Potter?!?!?!) – check out this article.
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