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July 10, 2020

Weekend reads: Should you be eating 'big butt' ants?

Daily Briefing

    Ben Palmer's reads

    Dogs may improve children's psychological development. A study published Monday in Pediatric Research found that, among children ages three- to five-years old, children in families who had pet dogs were around 30% less likely to have conduct problems, 40% less likely to have problems relating to their peers, and 34% more likely to exhibit pro-social behavior when compared with children whose families did not have dogs as pets. The study's authors cautioned that the findings don't establish causality, but they suggest that owning a dog could promote healthy psychological development in young children.

    Fans of horror may be more psychologically resilient amid the coronavirus pandemic. A study by researchers at the Aarhus University, Pennsylvania State University, and the University of Chicago, which was released last week but hasn't yet been peer reviewed, found that fans of the horror genre have been more psychologically resilient during the coronavirus pandemic than non-horror fans. According to the study, horror-focused media "can act as [a] simulatio[n] of actual experiences from which individuals can gather information and model possible worlds," which might explain why horror fans have been comparatively more resilient. The researchers explained, "In a simulated experience … one can explore possible futures or phenomena, gathering information about what the real version of such an experience would look like, and learn the relative success of certain actions and attitudes."

    Danielle Poindexter's reads

    Has the coronavirus saved some animals from becoming roadkill? Amid the implementation of stay-at-home orders in California, Idaho, and Maine to curb the new coronavirus' spread, road traffic in the states decreased by about 70% between March and April. Now, researchers claim the lack of road traffic could be tied to a decrease in car accidents involving deer and other mammals. According to a report from the University of California-Davis, wildlife-vehicle conflict declined by about 21% to 58% in the states following implementation of their stay-at-home orders.

    Eating these 'big butt' ants could be good for your health. In the Santander region in Colombia, the hormigas culonas, or "big butt" ants, are treated like caviar. Every spring, locals hunt the "cockroach-sized" queen ants as millions hatch throughout the countryside, BBC's Peter Yeung reports. The ants can taste like peanuts or even bacon, making them popular among the locals, and some claim that the ants, which are a source of unsaturated fatty acids and proteins, could help people live longer and prevent diseases like cancer.

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