Friday, January 17, 2014

For-Real Science Titles

Listen. Sometimes reading about science is not the invigorating spell-bound haze that we have often portrayed it as. It can be monotonous. It can lead to random outbursts of extreme anger - "WHY DID I READ ALL OF THIS WHEN IT IS SHIT, IT IS SUCH SHIT!"
Oreodont literature sucks SO HARD, Amy, SO HARD!

 But sometimes, it is gold and not for the reason you thought it might be. Here are a few gems discovered in epic quests through the vast and echoing forest of unrelated literature.

 "Arsenic toxicity: A heart-breaking saga of a freshwater mollusc."

By Chakraborty, Sudipta, Mitali Ray, and Sajal Ray.Tissue and Cell 44.3 (2012): 151-155.
Oh what drama, what agony. Thine bar charts doth bring much pain. This arsenic story strikes the heart of all, but most specifically the snails they were injecting with arsenic (directly into the heart). Fun fact: snail hearts don't work so good when you add arsenic to them.

"The case of the disappearing teaspoons: longitudinal cohort study of the displacement of teaspoons in an Australian research institute." 

By  Lim, Megan SC, Margaret E. Hellard, and Campbell K. Aitken. BMJ: British Medical Journal 331.7531 (2005): 1498.
 This article was promptly followed by fascinating and very relevant notes to the authors, including "Disappearing teaspoons: French data indicate global phenomenon," and "Teabags and forks are confounding factors." Of course, haters gonna hate, and typically they hate all over your methods such as in the thrilling follow up, "Method of spoon surveillance was not adequate."

 "Rediscovery of Professor Thomas Bell's type Crustacea (Brachyura) in the dry crustacean collection of the Zoological Collections, University Museum, Oxford." 

By DiMAURO, A. A. (October 01, 1982). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society, 76, 2, 155-182.
 Just let that soak in your psyche for a moment. Roll it around, feel out the edges because damn if that's not a title that tells a story. Here's a clip from the abstract: "While examining and curating the dry crustacean collection in the University Museum, Oxford, the author verified the presence of type crustaceans of the suborder Brachyura acquired by Thomas Bell and that were believed to be no longer extant." The Vengeance Team has heard this story before. Someone pokes around in a collection and finds a new damn dinosaur, and often makes their graduate student describe it. It's the first time we've heard it happen around an occurrence of dried crabs though, and frankly that sounds like a really uncomfortable conversation if taken out-of-context.

"Not knowing, not recording, not listing: numerous unnoticed mollusk extinctions." 

By Regnier, Claire, Benoit Fontaine, and Philippe Bouchet. Conservation Biology 23.5 (2009): 1214-1221.
 This is mostly just funny because Meaghan has to keep citing this paper, and adds the critical words "Not Caring" into the title to make it about 10 times more accurate. Sorry slugs - nobody loves you.

"Dogs are sensitive to small variations of the Earth's magnetic field." 

By V. Hart, P. Nováková, E. Malkemper, S. Begall, V. Hanzal, N. Veronika, and H. Burda. (2013) Frontiers in Zoology10(1), 80.
 We know. That doesn't seem like it should be quite so funny. However that's because someone has taken the words "While Pooping" off the end of that title. See, this entire article revolves around 2 years of watching your dog shit while examining their positioning with a compass. Turns out that dogs like to align themselves with the magnetic field when they are taking a dump, but what was extra interesting is that this behavior is sensitive to short-term fluctuations in the strength of the field. So ultimately cool if absolutely bizarre and hilarious research.

OK, these next two are technically abstracts. But wow, what a story they tell.

"Triassic Kraken: the Berlin Ichthyosaur Death Assemblage Interpreted as a Giant Cephalopod Midden" 

By MAS MCMENAMIN - 2011 GSA Annual Meeting in Minneapolis, 2011 -            
Yeah, to anyone whose abstracts have been rejected by GSA, you should sue. This guy claims in his GSA presentation that a giant Kraken rearranged the vertebrae of its ichthyosaur prey into specific designs. Not just any random pattern, but a self-portrait of the Kraken. Yes, an abstract about a mythical giant cephalopod who had a problem with narcissism was actually accepted by the Geological Society of America. *head hits desk*

And again in 2013....

"The Kraken's Back: New Evidence Regarding Possible Cephalopod Arrangement of Icthyosaur Skeletons"
MAS MCMENAMIN - Geological Society of America Abstracts, 2013 -
We have to give them credit: their idea was heavily criticized, so they came back to address some of those!  One of the biggest criticisms was that the bones could have been distributed in lines by water currents... which this talk somehow disproves. Also, plus +100 for tile flair, well done.

There is a handout associated with this abstract, as well as a powerpoint, so if you're interested in some light weekend reading, go to town!

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