Today in Research: The 6th Sense's Evolutionary Trail; More

Today in research: chiding about materialism, learning about a "sixth sense" ancestor, noting junk food by another name, worrying about the FDA, and reading about the dangers of reading in bed.

  • The evolutionary ancestor of the 'sixth sense.' Some animals, like the monarch butterfly for instance, have been noted to have the "sixth sense" ability to navigate direction based on magnetic fields. Today, Popular Science flagged a study from Cornell University purporting to trace back back this sense to a common, long-ago ancestor. Considering the dramatic notions held about the sixth sense, the godfather is a bit boring: it looks like some long-nosed fish. As the study's release describes: "This ancestor was probably a predatory marine fish with good eyesight, jaws and teeth and a lateral line system for detecting water movements, visible as a stripe along the flank of most fishes. It lived around 500 million years ago." [Popular ScienceCornell University - Press Release]
  • 'Better for you' foods are still don't look great for you. It seems slightly surprising that, as The Wall Street Journal reported, foods designated with the moniker "better for you" (i.e. "reduced-calorie items, such as flavored waters or diet sodas") are outperforming traditional junk food labeled products in sales, according to a Hudson Institute report. But the list of those "better for you" items still looks somewhat junky: "Examples include Oscar Mayer Lean Turkey and Wheat Thins from Kraft Foods, PepsiCo's Pepsi Max and Quaker Oatmeal and Unilever's Breyer's Light ice cream and Lipton Dry Soups." [The Wall Street Journal, CNN]

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