Science online, mysterious extra vertebrae edition

Wow. Lots of links this week. I’m using Google Reader again, so evidently getting better at aggregation and/or wasting valuable dissertation-completion time.

Sundews catch insects on their sticky leaves, potentially putting them in competition with web-spinning spiders. Photo by petrichor.
  • Shape up, Dad. Female rats are more prone to develop diabetes if their fathers were obese—through an inherited metabolic disorder. (Neurotic Physiology)
  • Also useful for studying how lizards rebel against their creators. To study how lizards communicate, build a robotic lizard. No, really. (The Thoughtful Animal)
  • Sounds like the basis for a very strange odd-couple sitcom. Can a spider and a plant be competitors? Maybe, if the plant is carnivorous. (It Takes 30)
  • A species in the genus Rosa by any other taxonomic identifier … Rod Page contemplates the importance of taxonomic names to biological research, and how to handle them in modern data structures. (iPhylo)
  • Nobody could’ve predicted. BP’s cost-cutting and rapid corporate expansion probably contributed to a corporate culture prone to accidents. (ProPublica)
  • One more way in which sloths are weird. Almost all mammals—giraffes included—have seven vertebrae in their necks. But sloths have up to 10. A new developmental study suggests how those extra vertebrae evolved. (NY Times, h/t Mike the Mad Biologist)
  • Every little bit helps. A new study suggests that, without modern conservation efforts, the ongoing extinction crisis would be even worse. (Southern Fried Science)
  • Um. Doesn’t that defeat the purpose? Placebos are used all the time in pharmaceutical research, but very few published studies actually report what the placebo was made of. (Helen Jacques)
  • The salmon of doubt. The inaugural article in the Journal of Unusual and Serendipitous Results casts doubt on interpretation of functional MRI readings—when its authors find brain activity in a dead fish. (Byte Size Biology)
  • But it looks so cool when Don Draper does it. Dave Munger ponders the ultimate effectiveness of smoking bans and warnings. (SEED Magazine)
  • “Aspergirls” is one catchy neologism. Steve Silberman continues his exploration of human experience on the Autism spectrum with comedienne Rudy Simone—and opens an ongoing conversation with her at The Well. (NeuroTribes)

More sloth weirdness on video: they can swim! But the water’s a dangerous place, as David Attenborough will tell you.