science news

Did Professor Steve Morris Get His Drunk-Alcoholic Elephant Theory Wrong?

Steve Morris has an interesting paper out in the Journal of Physiological and Biochemical Zoology arguing that elephants can not get drunk in the wild from eating rotting fruit from the Marula tree.


The suggestion that the African elephant (Loxodonta africana) becomes intoxicated from eating the fruit of the marula tree (Sclerocarya birrea) is an attractive, established, and persistent tale…Such tales, it seems, may result from “humanizing” elephant behavior.

He proves this with various models, and concludes an elephant would have to eat 4x their usual diet to become intoxicated.

Here is a link to a nice video from youtube apparently disproving his paper.

The image is of an elephant so drunk from Marula fruit that it walks into a tree. Click the picture above to see the whole video. Although, I could fully believe an aggressive nature cinematographer liquored up a bunch of animals for this video, I just kind of doubt it.

Link to paper:


By November 12, 2006 0 comments science news

The famous moonwalking Red-capped manakin (Pipra mentalis)

This was featured over at Improbable Research. The general gist is that the male Red-capped manakin will do a very impressive moonwalk to attract the females. Unfortunately, for the biologist, she didn’t make it to David Bradley’s top 10. Here is a screen cap of the bird. And here is a link to the video: bird moonwalk.


By September 27, 2006 0 comments science news

Radon is killing at a rate of 21,100 Americans a year

I was a bit surprised at the number myself. The figure is reported in the latest issue of the Journal of Chemical Education, by Charles H. Atwood in the article Radon in Homes: Recent Developments. What was also interesting is that there is no safe amount of radon exposure. Meaning, once some radon decays in your lungs you will be at greater risk of lung cancer. We kind of like to think, “Hey, some chemicals are toxic sure, but a little exposure can’t really hurt us?” Well, Radon is not one of those chemicals. Since, terrorists killed 3000 Americans in a single day, you would think the hazards associated with Radon would get more publicity since it kills more Americans annually. But hell, if smoking which kills 160,000 Americans annually falls between the cracks surely radon would too. Attached is a figure taken from the above mentioned paper detailing the areas of the country with the highest risk of Radon.


By September 20, 2006 0 comments science news