Today in Research: The Rise of Tool-Wielding Fish

Plus: a stealthy way to get rid of mosquitoes

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Today in research: fish have their caveman epiphany, a mosquitoe trap, and women have better immune systems.

  • A stealthy way to get rid of mosquitoes. Remember this as you're wildly spraying mosquitoe-confusing DEET repellent everywhere: you aren't the only meal of the annoying insects. Mosquitoes mostly just partake in "modest sips of nectar from flowers or from ripe or rotting fruit," according to research by Hebrew University scientists relayed by The New York Times. That little tidbit isn't just for interest's sake. The point of the research, conducted in Israel and in West Africa, is to find ways to poison those preferred foods by using "Attractive Toxic Sugar Baits" that will kill off the pests. Judging from the newspaper's take, they seem to be promising a cheap and effective potential deterrent. [The New York Times]
  • The number of scientists who think the government should promote happiness is still 'growing.'  Academics have been batting around the idea of government actively going into the "making people happy" business for some time (good primer here). That idea is still alive and well today, as The Los Angeles Times finds in an overview article on the topic. Here's the pipe dream: "If policymakers were to prioritize happiness over economic growth, they might favor policies aimed at keeping employment stable and unemployment low instead of policies that helped companies maximize their profits." Yup, not likely. [The Los Angeles Times]
  • Women's genes make them better attuned to fending off diseases. It seems that females got a bit luckier, genetically speaking. Not only are they more likely to live longer, but a University of Belgium researcher explains that women are "more able to fight off shock episodes from sepsis, infection or trauma." He added: "We believe this is due to the X chromosome." A similar study in 2009 also found that women had stronger immune systems. [The Telegraph]
  • Fish have just had a 'caveman learns how to use a rock as a tool' moment. Humanity has spent too much time worrying about the rise of an insanely smart batch of apes. Meanwhile, under the sea, the "first" video of fish using a rock as a tool to crack open a clam has been revealed by a University of Santa Cruz researcher. (a quick Google search shows another recent video--although it didn't show a rock being used). And earlier this summer another diver circulated what was deemed first image of a fish using a tool to eat. Just watch below as "an orange-dotted tuskfish digs a clam out of the sand, carries it over to a rock, and repeatedly throws the clam against the rock to crush it." The clam-throwing action start at 1:25 in the footage. We've been warned. [Eurekalert - Press Release]
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