Bite mark vagueness; Dr. Lean and Dr. Stout; Duck-swan mutual dining; Knitting

This week’s Feedback column (that I write) in New Scientist magazine has five segments. Here are bits of each of them:

  • Biting biting remarks — …Bite-mark analysis hoo-ha, so far, mostly applies to identifying human biters. Mostly, but not entirely. Enter a new paper called “Forensic determination of shark species as predators and scavengers of sea turtles in Florida and Alabama, USA“. It reports several cases of bitership (please note and celebrate Feedback’s word coinage) identification of bite marks on turtles. Detectives reportedly “narrowed down” the list of suspected biters to one or perhaps two species of shark. They neglected or failed to identify the individual shark or sharks.
  • He is LeanNominative determinism can be a heavy burden for individuals whose life work immediately seems, to everyone who meets them, a fat target for jokes. With that in mind, Feedback expresses sympathy to Michael Lean, professor of human nutrition at the University of Glasgow. Lean has written, in Lean prose, about many subjects that relate either directly or oppositely to leanness….
  • He is Stout — Michael Lean, meet Michael Stout, assistant professor of nutritional sciences at the University of Oklahoma. Stout has done much research related to stoutness….
  • Duck dining — …a curious reciprocal exchange of parasites that almost inevitably happens between certain whooper swans and certain mallard ducks. The whooper/mallard relationship becomes evident to anyone who chances to read two old research reports. Each tells half of the story of the two kinds of bird….
  • Well-knitted superpower — Bryn Glover makes a measured, although slightly deteriorating, contribution to Feedback’s list of trivial superpowers….