Friday Coffee Break

birdscoffeeEvery 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.

Scientists have been tracking the flight patterns of alpine swifts – turns out, they are pretty badass! (From Noah).

“In September of 2011, three alpine swifts took to the air in southwest Africa, and stayed there for almost 200 days. They fed on the wing. They slept on the wing. By the time they firmly settled back on solid surfaces, it was April of 2012 and they had travelled across the Sahara to the Mediterranean.”

A recent study has identified heritable genetic variation that may contribute to eating disorders (From Jeremy).

“Eating disorders are a combination disease, a combination of genetic risks and environmental triggers, including things like stress. Unfortunately, it’s been difficult to identify specific genes that predispose people to eating disorders.”

Trying to determine which recent scientific findings are the most important? Don’t ask a scientist (From Amy).

“Maybe you shouldn’t put too much stock in what four out of five dentists say? Scientists, even experts in the same field, don’t agree on which research studies are the most important, a new study (of course) found.”

CJ points us to some awesome science comics at Beatrice the Biologist.

“Beatrice the Biologist is part science blog, part comic, and part incoherent rambling. I just hope you find my insanity amusing.”

Poop pills – This is supposed to reduce the ‘ick’ factor?  (From Sarah)

“If you’re one of those people that has trouble swallowing pills, try not to think what’s in these ones as they go down: A researcher has shown that encapsulated bacteria from human feces effectively treated 100 percent of patients with relapsing Clostridium difficile infections.”

While a longer life is good for us, it is likely very bad for our biotic environment.  Are you surprised? (From Sarah)

“As human life expectancy increases, so does the percentage of invasive and endangered birds and mammals, according to a new study by the University of California, Davis.”