Weekend Links: the Science of Good Chocolate, Wasps Can Turn Roaches Into Zombies and More

Welcome to Weekend Links, a collection of fascinating science stories from across the web, curated by your science-loving friends at the Mass General Research Institute.

Roaches Kick Wasps in the Head to Avoid Becoming Zombies

Mindy Weisberger writing for Live Science

A wasp that preys on cockroaches turns them into mind-controlled zombies by stinging them in the brain, and roaches were thought to be all but defenseless against this zombifying attack. But it turns out that cockroaches have a defensive move that can protect them from becoming members of the walking dead.

Where is the Boundary Between Life and Death?

Nadja Oertelt writing for Massive Science

In this first episode, A Bolt of Lightning, Britt Wray, science communicator, co-host of BBC’s Tomorrow’s World, writer, and producer joins ecologist and biologist Ben Novak to discuss the permeable boundary between life and death – and humans and nature. Animated by the talented Daniela Sherer with sound by Skillbard.

Elephants Count Similar to How Humans Do, Study Shows

Alison Mackey writing for Discover

Asian elephants seem to know their numbers, according to a study published yesterday in the Journal of Ethology. Lead author Naoko Irie and colleagues at SOKENDAI trained a 14-year old elephant named Authai to use a touch panel in order to test her mathematical abilities.

The Science of Good Chocolate

Simran Sethi writing for the Smithsonian

Sukha studies the nuances of smell and taste in the cacao plant, whose pulp-covered seeds, once processed, become cocoa and chocolate. He wants to understand—and relay to chocolate eaters—not only the biological characteristics of the plant, but also the sensorial ones.

Birds Got Their Colorful, Speckled Eggs From Dinosaurs

Nell Greenfieldboyce writing for NPR

The rainbow of hues seen in modern bird eggs probably evolved in birds’ dinosaur ancestors, which had eggs with colorful and speckled shells. That’s according to a new study of fossil eggs in the journal Nature.

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