Apparently, even fossilized excrement can give us a great deal of information about the loving habits of ancient beings.
Ancient poop is known to geologists as coprolite material. It can be truly fossilized as solid rock, or just preserved in glacial ice, permafrost or dry caves. One geology department softball team I knew proudly named itself the “Coprolites.” Such is geologic humor.
Ancient mammoths and other prehistoric animals were well defined by the phrase, “you are what you eat.” And by studying what ancient animals ate — through their intestinal remains or their poop — we can learn about their diets and nutrition.
Hat tip Kottke.org. If you live in the desert Southwest, you know centipedes. We have learned to make a quick dash for the kitchen tongs to toss the offending beasts outside, since squishing them usually doesn't work - and it's simply disgusting. As far as I am concerned, these are aggressive mean-spirited beings that serve no purpose except to harass unwitting mammalian residents. I have actually had them run back toward me when I've flung them out the door. All that said, our centipedes are no more than about 7 inches long - usually shorter. So this video makes me think I NEVER want to go to South America, even if it was in my list of places I'd like to go.
Interesting research reported in the San Francisco Weekly about emerging research on the use of iPads in the therapy of autistic children...
Since the iPad's unveiling in April, autism experts and parents have brought it into countless homes and classrooms around the world. Developers have begun pumping out applications specifically designed for users with special needs, and initial studies are already measuring the effectiveness of the iPod Touch and the iPad as learning tools for children with autism. Through the devices, some of these children have been able to communicate their thoughts to adults for the first time. Others have learned life skills that had eluded them for years.
Though there are other computers designed for children with autism, a growing number of experts say that the iPad is better. It's cheaper, faster, more versatile, more user-friendly, more portable, more engaging, and infinitely cooler for young people. "I just couldn't imagine not introducing this to a parent of a child who has autism," says Tammy Mastropietro, a speech pathologist based outside Boston who uses the technology with numerous clients. She sees it as a game changer for those with autism, particularly those most severely affected.
Matt Ridley, author of The Rational Optimist website (and numerous books), presented at TED Global this year. The whole video is worth watching, of course, but I really like the [slightly out of context] quote below.
We've gone beyond the capacity of the human mind to an extraordinary degree. And by the way, that's one of the reasons that I'm not interested in the debate about I.Q., about whether some groups have higher I.Q.s that other groups. It's completely irrelevant. What's relevant to a society is how well people are communicating their ideas, and how well they're cooperating, not how clever their individuals are.
I have a bunch of friends on statins and I have often wondered if they're being over-prescribed. Interesting article in the LA Times indicating others questioning, as well....
As the world's most-prescribed class of medications, statins indisputably qualify for the commercial distinction of "blockbuster." About 24 million Americans take the drugs — marketed under such commercial names as Pravachol, Mevacor, Lipitor, Zocor and Crestor — largely to stave off heart attacks and strokes.
At the zenith of their profitability, these medications raked in $26.2 billion a year for their manufacturers. The introduction in recent years of cheaper generic versions may have begun to cut into sales revenues for the brand-name drugs that came first to the market, but better prices have only fueled the medications' use: In 2009, U.S. patients filled 201.4 million prescriptions for statins, according to IMS Health, which tracks prescription drug trends. That's nearly double the number of prescriptions written for statins in 2001, four years after they arrived on the American pharmaceutical landscape.
But in recent months the drugs' touted medical reputation has come under tough scrutiny.
Although there has been increasing evidence of the value of this and other tests in finding signs of Alzheimer’s, the study, which will appear Tuesday in the Archives of Neurology, shows how accurate they can be. The new result is one of a number of remarkable recent findings about Alzheimer’s.
After decades when nothing much seemed to be happening, when this progressive brain disease seemed untreatable and when its diagnosis could be confirmed only at autopsy, the field has suddenly woken up.
I guess I suspected that men liked bar food more than women did, in general but gender-appropriate food? Who knew?
Boys learn at an early age that certain foods (red meat, beer) are associated with masculinity, while others (fish, vegetables, yogurt) are considered feminine. Eating gender-appropriate grub becomes a way of affirming one’s manliness. As they grow into men, those choices gradually become habitual.
...many biologists who study whales and dolphins ...urge that negotiators redouble efforts to abolish commercial whaling and dolphin hunting entirely. As these scientists see it, the evidence is high and mounting that the cetacean order includes species second only to humans in mental, social and behavioral complexity, and that maybe we shouldn’t talk about what we’re harvesting or harpooning, but whom.
“At the very least, you could put it in line with hunting chimps,” said Hal Whitehead, who studies sperm whales at Dalhousie University in Halifax. “When you compare relative brain size, or levels of self-awareness, sociality, the importance of culture, cetaceans come out on most of these measures in the gap between chimps and humans. They fit the philosophical definition of personhood.”
How much more personable can you get than to wave the flag for tribe or team? Among sperm and killer whales, Dr. Whitehead said, “there’s a feeling of what one might call ethnicity or cultural identity, of saying, ‘This is my clan, and it’s different from the others.’ ” One way whales express their ethnicity is through dialect. Every clan has its signature call, and in regions of the ocean where two clans overlap, the differences between calls become exaggerated. “It’s like if you’re Irish and you run across someone who is Scottish or Welsh,” said Dr. Whitehead. “You’ll speak with an even stronger Irish accent to make it really clear whose group you belong to.”