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Posts

April 18, 2014

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1:31 PM | Faking Sick for a Living
(This post was first published in January 2014.) Lying to your doctor is encouraged in one situation: when your doctor is a student and you’re an actor asked to portray a certain condition. My friend Amy Savage does this for work. In between fake symptom bouts, I asked her to write a guest post sharing what she’s […]The post Faking Sick for a Living appeared first on Inkfish.

April 15, 2014

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2:11 PM | We Trust Technology That Talks to Us
Siri doesn’t need your love (sorry). But she does need your trust. At least, she does if you’re going to use her in the way Apple intends. For us to make artificially intelligent technologies like smartphones and self-driving cars a part our routines, we have to be willing to turn over important parts of our […]The post We Trust Technology That Talks to Us appeared first on Inkfish.

April 11, 2014

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2:40 PM | Caterpillars Sneak into Ant Nests by Singing like Queens
Before they become butterflies, some caterpillars transform themselves into ants. Rather than living out in the open and braving predators while they grow up, these caterpillars sneak into ant nests for free food and lodging—or they just eat the ants. Either way, scientists have found, part of the caterpillars’ disguise involves mimicking the sounds of […]The post Caterpillars Sneak into Ant Nests by Singing like Queens appeared first on Inkfish.

April 08, 2014

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3:45 PM | Scientists Like Some Animals Better than Others (Hint: Bears)
In the fight for attention from researchers, there are winners and there are civets. That’s what researchers found when they analyzed almost 16,500 published papers about animals from walruses to weasels. They saw clear trends in which animals are the most popular to study. And it matters because the most popular animals aren’t necessarily the […]The post Scientists Like Some Animals Better than Others (Hint: Bears) appeared first on Inkfish.

Brooke, Z., Bielby, J., Nambiar, K. & Carbone, C. (2014). Correlates of Research Effort in Carnivores: Body Size, Range Size and Diet Matter, PLoS ONE, 9 (4) DOI:

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April 04, 2014

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2:38 PM | Large Broods Drive Bird Parents to an Early Grave
If your parents ever groaned that you and your siblings were aging them rapidly with your bickering or loud music, they may have been right—especially if they were jackdaws. Scientists who artificially increased or decreased the size of these birds’ broods found that extra-large families make parents die sooner. One theory of aging says that […]The post Large Broods Drive Bird Parents to an Early Grave appeared first on Inkfish.

April 01, 2014

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3:33 PM | Eyeless Fish Navigates with Mouth Suction
As bats squeak and swoop through pitch-black Mexican caves, the pale fish that inhabit the pools below them perform a soundless imitation. These fish are blind but sense the world through subtle pressure changes on their skin. To navigate the cave floors, they also use a tool that’s never been observed in another animal: the […]The post Eyeless Fish Navigates with Mouth Suction appeared first on Inkfish.

Holzman R, Perkol-Finkel S & Zilman G (2014). Mexican blind cavefish use mouth suction to detect obstacles., The Journal of experimental biology, PMID:

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March 28, 2014

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1:58 PM | Scientists Convince People Their Hands Are Rocks
No matter how much of a critical thinker you consider yourself, your brain is pretty gullible. With a few minutes and a couple of props, your brain can be convinced that one of your limbs is made of rubber or invisible, or that your whole body is the size of a Barbie doll’s. All these illusions […]The post Scientists Convince People Their Hands Are Rocks appeared first on Inkfish.

Senna, I., Maravita, A., Bolognini, N. & Parise, C. (2014). The Marble-Hand Illusion, PLoS ONE, 9 (3) DOI:

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March 25, 2014

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5:41 PM | Classic Children’s Books That Would Be Ruined by Modern Medicine
Kids who love books know the world is a perilous place. Any day a tornado may carry away your house; your little brother may be kidnapped by a disembodied alien brain; a rhinoceros may eat your parents. But when it comes to more ordinary dangers, kids who read the classics might be left confused: Is […]The post Classic Children’s Books That Would Be Ruined by Modern Medicine appeared first on Inkfish.

March 21, 2014

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1:39 PM | Humans Make Conchs Shrink (And One Kid Saw It Coming)
The classic, swirling shell of a conch helps protect it from hungry birds and sea creatures, but when a human decides to pluck one from shallow water and boil it for supper, there’s not much the animal can do. Its only defense is to evolve, as a species, to be smaller and less appealing to […]The post Humans Make Conchs Shrink (And One Kid Saw It Coming) appeared first on Inkfish.

O'Dea, A., Shaffer, M., Doughty, D., Wake, T. & Rodriguez, F. (2014). Evidence of size-selective evolution in the fighting conch from prehistoric subsistence harvesting, Proceedings of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences, 281 (1782) 20140159-20140159. DOI:

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