Mysterious News Briefly — January 7, 2022
A new study by neurobiologists in Hungary used MRI scans to reveal that dogs’ brains can distinguish between familiar and unfamiliar languages, making them the first and so far only non-human animals to be able to tell the difference between human languages, and they can do it without any special training. Can they tell the difference between familiar and unfamiliar fire hydrants?
Black-eared mice (Peromyscus melanotis) have been observed in California eating as many as 40 bitter-tasting monarch butterflies per night, and they seem to like the abdomen or thorax the best because they are high in calories with fewer toxins. When posing for pictures, do black-eared mice say “monarchs”?
The Korea Institute of Science and Technology (KIST) announced the development of a photodiode that detects the polarization of light in the near-infrared region without additional polarization filters, thus enabling smartphones to create and send 3D digital holograms. “Text me Obi-wan Kenobi, you’re my only hope IMHO.”
A team of researchers at ETH Zurich found that they could make buildings earthquake-resistant cheaply by filling tennis balls with mortar and placing them between concrete slabs where they act as seismic isolation bearings to help the building ride out violent shaking. If they could use these in shoes, it would make dancing so much easier.
A British family set a Guinness World Record for most albino siblings in a single family with three brothers and three sisters all affected by albinism, a genetic condition which they inherited from their albino parents. Good news for Edgar Winter – none of them are musical.
There was less lightning in the spring of 2020 and a new study links it to the coronavirus lockdowns — human activities such as burning fossil fuels for heat, energy and transportation release tiny particles in the atmosphere called aerosols that contribute to lightning and all of those activities dropped during the shutdown. Is this why weather reporters were pushing to get back to work?
The antibiotic-resistant bacterium Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) was thought to only infect humans but microbiologists recently discovered a majority of hedgehogs also carry the bacterium and have done so since the early 1800s, well over a century before humans discovered antibiotics. Good luck teaching hedgehogs to wash their tiny hands.
A tree grows in Cameroon’s Ebo Forest and is now named Uvariopsis dicaprio after actor Leonardo DiCaprio helped save the rainforest from logging, thus saving this rare, newly-discovered species of tropical evergreen. No, this doesn’t mean that plant in your office is named for the lead singer of Led Zeppelin.
An unusual number of a rare, ugly (to humans) species of anglerfish known as the Pacific footballfish have been washing ashore in Southern California and biologists say it’s not necessarily a sign of earthquakes or oils spills or the apocalypse but an indication that this is an especially good breeding season for Pacific footballfish. In other words, those that were washed up were first ‘washed up’ in the footballfish bedroom.
Scientists at the at the Shanghai Institute of Nutrition and Health have found a gene that causes humans to have fingerprints and it also aids in limb development, making it a possible tool in the search for new treatments for congenital disorders, including Down’s syndrome — children with Down’s syndrome are more likely to have a single crease running across the palm of their hands. You just know some business is already using this to make fingerprint-resistant windows.