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February 8, 2019

Weekend reads: This zoo will name a cockroach after your ex—and feed it to a meerkat

Daily Briefing

    Ben Palmer's reads

    Eat your heart out. This Valentine's Day, the El Paso Zoo will name a cockroach after your former significant other and then feed it to a meerkat live on camera as part of its "Quit Bugging Me" meerkat event. Sarah Borrego, the zoo's event coordinator, said the event is "a fun way to get the community involved in our daily enrichment activities." She added that the meerkats "love to get cockroaches as a snack and what better way to celebrate Valentine's Day than by feeding them a cockroach named after your ex!"

    What living alone could do to your health. People who live alone may be at a higher risk of dying early than those who don't, according to a recent study in the European Heart Journal Quality of Care & Clinical Outcomes. For the study, researchers observed 3,346 men for 32 years and found that, after controlling for a number of health and behavioral characteristics, those who lived alone had a 23% increased risk of dying prematurely and a 36% increased risk of dying from a cardiovascular event.  However, those who lived alone and were in the highest socioeconomic group did not see an increased risk of premature death.

    Danielle Poindexter's reads

    Fighting mosquitos with ... diet pills? A study published in the journal Cell on Thursday revealed that mosquitos are less hungry after eating a solution that combined human diet drugs with ATP, "a molecule found in most animal cells that mosquitos fine irresistible," Thomas Lewton reports for NPR's "Goats and Soda." The researchers said mosquitos "lost interest" in human blood for "several days" after eating the diet drug solution. According to the researchers, the diet drugs might've worked because a lot of animals have similar pathways for hunger. The developments might help scientists control mosquitos that "transmit diseases" such as malaria, yellow fever, and dengue, according to James Logan from the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

    Women's brains stay younger, longer. Compared with men's brains, women's brains maintain a higher metabolism throughout their lifetimes, which indicates that women "ha[ve] a younger brain age relative to males," according to Manu Goyal, an assistant professor of radiology and neurology at Washington University School of Medicine. According to a study published Monday in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, brain scans of 205 men and women revealed that on average, women's brains were four years younger than men's brains. The researchers said the higher metabolism may give women "an edge" when it comes to learning and creativity, but it could also result in a higher risk of developing Alzheimer's disease.


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