Friday Faves June 6, 2014

Science discovers the point of the "dishrag pose"

Koala bears have to stay cool, and it turns out one way to do so is to flop on a tree branch. It's not only cute, but the branch is cooler than the koala, bringing their body temp down in high heat. This explains a lot about my squirrel subjects on hot days. Read about it!

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Gratuitous squirrel flopping photo.

Sex and food drive animals to interesting behaviors

Male Micrixalus (frogs) kick their legs in a sort of "dance" to get the ladies (okay this is really cute)

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and spiders hear the tones of their web vibrations to detect prey. Awesome.

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In the skeptic's corner...

Just add brain and people listen

People are more likely to trust scientific results when brain imaging are discussed -- and the effect is strongest when information is WRONG! Moral of the story: don't let your eyes glaze over when neuroscientific "jargon" is used to explain findings! Read more here.

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It's not all good in science

Marc Hauser was a prominent, well-respected animal behaviorist who risked (and lost) his entire career by engaging in egregious scientific misconduct (fabricating data among other things). He resigned from Harvard in 2012, and more details of his various falsifications have just come to light in a new report that was just released. I think it's important to discuss what happened, and not sweep this under the rug. Scientists need to be discussing ethics on a regular basis! When I see his work cited to this day, it makes me cringe. Is it ironic that he wrote on morality?

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