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 Noah

If you were a Stellar’s Jay, how many times would you have to throw up a Marbled Murrelet’s egg before you stopped eating them in the first place?

Steller’s jays don’t seek out murrelet eggs. But when the birds circle picnic areas near murrelet nests, some discover the chicken-size eggs make a fine treat. The smart, savvy birds will return to the same spot over and over, searching for food. Murrelets, to their misfortune, nest in the same tree every year.

From Jeremy

Can fossilized bone damaged by teeth be distinguished from fossilized bone damaged by claws? Let’s use tigers and cow femurs trapped inside logs to find out!

It’s a bird! It’s a plane! Nope, it’s bees having sex in the air!

From CJ

The role of odor and smell in avian mate choice:

“Based on odor, females seemed to be not only choosing with which males to mate, but many times they also were selecting different males to raise their nestlings,” Whittaker said. “Interestingly enough, the cuckolding males had higher levels of a ‘female-like’ odor.”

Planning a trip to Vietnam? Maybe you should check Son Doong out – because now you actually can. (Pssst – the pictures look amazing).

The Son Doong Cave in Vietnam is the biggest cave in the world. It’s over 5.5 miles long, has a jungle and river, and could fit a 40-story skyscraper within its walls. But nobody knew any of that until four years ago.

Finally, a little LEGO STEM gender equality!

From Sarah

Did you know that the USA is the world’s second largest consumer of illegal elephant ivory? Here’s one thing we’re going to do about that.

A slightly disturbing history of childbirth deaths – alternatively titled – holy crap, I’m glad it’s 2013!

In the United States today, about 15 women die in pregnancy or childbirth per 100,000 live births. That’s way too many, but a century ago it was more than 600 women per 100,000 births. In the 1600s and 1700s, the death rate was twice that: By some estimates, between 1 and 1.5 percent of women giving birth died. Note that the rate is per birth, so the lifetime risk of dying in childbirth was much higher, perhaps 4 percent.

AT LEAST one of these beakers should be a coffee mug, don’t you think?

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