Hi, Steve Mirsky here with the previously promised part two of this week’s Science Talk podcast, namely TOTALLY BOGUS. Here are four science stories, but only three are true. See if you know which story is TOTALLY BOGUS.
Story 1, famed primatologist Jane Goodall wrote to a judge on Staten Island urging him to send a woman to prison.
Story 2, another New York City story, the Department of Health last week removed bees from the list of animals that New Yorkers are prohibited from having. In other words, beekeeping is poised to be legal again in New York.
Story 3, another stinging story, many species of catfish actually produce poisonous venom.
And story 4, people with large fingertips have more touch sensitivity.
Story 1 is true, Jane Goodall did write to a judge on Staten Island, urging him to give prison time to Mamie Manneh, a mother of eight who had been found guilty of smuggling bushmeat into the U.S. The judge was more lenient than Goodall hoped. That’s according to a New York Daily News article with the fantastic headline “Staten Island Octomom Gets Probation in Monkey Meat Case”. Which is nowhere near your grocer’s freezer.
Story 2 is true, oddly enough, beekeeping has been illegal in the city since 1999, when bees were added to the list of animals too dangerous to keep. That list includes lions, crocodiles and pit vipers. As community gardens have flourished in recent years, beekeeping has likewise grown in popularity. But keepers faced stinging fines if found out. Soon, they’ll be able to pollinate in peace.
And story 3 is true, at least a thousand catfish species produce venom, according to research published in the open access journal BMC Evolutionary Biology. It appears that North American species mostly use the venom defensively. The fish’s venom glands are next to sharp spines on the edges of the dorsal and pectoral fins. When a spine jabs a potential predator, the membrane surrounding the venom gland cells tears, releasing venom into the wound. And that’s no fish story. Well, it is a fish story, but it’s no fish story.
All of which means that story 4, about people with large fingertips having better touch sensitivity, is TOTALLY BOGUS. Because just the opposite appears to be the case. A study in the Journal of Neuroscience found that the density of receptors was higher in smaller fingertips, giving the small-handed a leg up when it comes to being armed for sensing touch. And let’s give those researchers a big hand.
Well, that’s it for this special BOGUS add-on to our podcast with David Biello and Steve Sanderson. We plan to have a new podcast up before Christmas with some pieces related to the holiday season. In the meantime, get your science news at www.scientificamerican.com. I’m Steve Mirsky, thanks for clicking on us.