calamintha bee, rare species, new locations, pollination, endangered plants
The author writes, “Florida Museum of Natural History scientists have found the first nest of Florida’s extraordinarily rare blue calamintha bee and added a new location to its known range: the Ocala National Forest. They also confirmed the insect feeds on a second, but highly endangered, host plant. ... ‘It’s a story of a really rare bee using a really rare series of plants. This bee could be closely tied to the pollination of these endangered plants,’ said Jaret Daniels, Florida Museum curator and the project’s principal investigator.” Photo credit: Tim Lethbridge / Flickr (CC BY 3.0)

How Amateur Sleuths Broke the Wuhan Lab Story ; Fishermen Netted a $1.5 Million Whale-Vomit Windfall ; and More Picks 6/7

PICKS are stories from many sources, selected by our editors or recommended by our readers because they are important, surprising, troubling, enlightening, inspiring, or amusing. They appear on our site and in our daily newsletter. Please send suggested articles, videos, podcasts, etc. to

How Amateur Sleuths Broke the Wuhan Lab Story and Embarrassed the Media (Bethany)

From Newsweek: “For most of last year, the idea that the coronavirus pandemic could have been triggered by a laboratory accident in Wuhan, China, was largely dismissed as a racist conspiracy theory of the alt-right. … But in the last week or so, the story has burst into the public discourse. President Joe Biden has demanded an investigation by U.S. intelligence. And the mainstream media, in an astonishing about-face, is treating the possibility with deadly seriousness. The reason for the sudden shift in attitudes is clear: over the weeks and months of the pandemic, the pileup of circumstantial evidence pointing to the Wuhan lab kept growing — until it became too substantial to ignore.”

Most Americans Think They Can Spot Fake News. They Can’t, Study Finds (DonkeyHotey)

The author writes, “As many as three in four Americans overestimate their ability to spot false headlines — and the worse they are at it, the more likely they are to share fake news, researchers reported [last week]. The study of surveys involving 8,200 people … also showed Republicans are more likely to fall for fake news than Democrats are.”

Nigeria Bans Twitter After President’s Tweet Deleted (Nick)

The author writes, “Nigeria banned Twitter on Friday after the platform deleted a tweet by President Muhammadu Buhari, saying it violated their abusive behavior policy. ‘The Federal Government has suspended, indefinitely, the operations of the microblogging and social networking service, Twitter, in Nigeria,’ the country’s ministry of information posted on Twitter Friday.”

Teen Girls Need Better Public Spaces to Hang Out (Reader Jim)

The author writes, “Basketball courts, skate parks and playgrounds overlook an important demographic: teenage girls. A burgeoning design movement is trying to fix that.”

A New Look at a Wicked Emperor (Dan)

The author writes, “The marble portraits on display in the show aren’t always what they seem. For instance, a bust of Vespasian, who became emperor in 69 AD after a brief civil war, is actually a recarved bust of Nero, says lead curator Thorsten Opper. Small traces on the surface of the marble at the back of the neck indicate ‘where a longer section of hair, characteristic of Nero’s coiffure, was removed.’ Another marble bust in the exhibition, from Rome’s Musei Capitolini, is one of the best known portraits of Nero … But ‘only the central part of the face is ancient,’ Mr. Opper says. ‘Everything else is a brilliant 17th century restoration, and he looks big, and he looks mean and gluttonous and tyrannical. But it’s based on distorted sources.’ The premise of the exhibition is that Nero’s reign, from 54 to 68 AD, was a lot more accomplished and less tyrannical than we think. The stories about his depravity — for instance, that he had his mother Agrippina murdered — come from historians like Tacitus and Suetonius, members of a senatorial elite that was jealous of imperial power.” 

A Group of Fishermen Netted a $1.5 Million Whale-Vomit Windfall After Dredging Up a 280-pound Hunk of the Stuff (Reader Steve)

From Insider: “A 35-man fishing crew working off Yemen netted the find of a lifetime when they hauled in about $1.5 million worth of whale vomit. Whale vomit is also known as ambergris and is an odorous substance found only in the digestive systems of sperm whales. According to the UK’s Natural History Museum, the substance is often called the ‘treasure of the sea’ and ‘floating gold’ because of how rare it is. Ambergris is particularly valuable for its use making perfumes’ scents last longer. According to National Geographic, Chanel and Lanvin use ambergris in some of their high-end scents.”


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