Science online, back online edition

Suck it, tigers. Photo by Billtacular.

I didn’t do a linkfest last week, what with having other things on my mind, so this list may be longer than average. You should read them all.

  • Converging … on poison! Both bird’s foot trefoil and the burnet moth caterpillars that eat it have independently evolved the ability to synthesize two cyanide-based toxins.
  • Not what you want to read the week you defend your Ph.D. A guy who anticipated two previous economic bubbles thinks that the next one to burst could be higher education.
  • Born free, but do they want to stay free? Whether animals are happier in the wild depends on what kind of life they could have in captivity.
  • Better offense and better defense. How “natural” resistance to HIV infection works, on a cellular level.
  • “Third gender” ≠ “gay.” The many ways modern cultures grapple with human sexual diversity shed light on the “gay” non-caveman.
  • Also less cute, in my opinion. When you consider their respective ecological roles, tigers are less important than warblers.
  • Unhappy anniversary. A year after the Gulf of Mexico oil spill, we still don’t know what effects the oil and chemical dispersants may have on sea life—but there are plenty of reasons to worry.
  • Your wardrobe, under the microscope. Anthropological consideration of why women (and men) wear high heels, as well as why those heels might be black.
  • Shakespeare, evolution, and Kubrick’s Space Odyssey: brilliant. Brutish, aggressive chimpanzees have long been the assumed model for earlier humans—but more peaceful bonobos might be closer to the truth.
  • Might as well give up on drug development right now. Masturbation (or, rather, orgasm) has been found to relieve restless leg syndrome.