Discovered: Wormy discharge heals wounds by suppressing the immune system; drones will keep tabs on endangered animals; fish strike back against birds; memories back you hungry.
Maggot medicine. Scientists just figured out why the grossest home remedy for cuts of all time works. Surgeons in wartime have known for hundreds of years that maggots can help close wounds, and now researchers from the Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands have discovered that maggot secretions lower the level of complement proteins in human blood. This effectively suppresses the immune system, necessary for letting the maggot slime do its healing work without getting attacked by our bodies' natural worm-targeting instincts. "This research advances our understanding of how and why maggot therapy helps wounds heal faster," comments researcher Ronald Sherma. Complement-inhibiting compounds extracted from maggots could be an ingredient in clinical drugs in the near future, researchers hope. [Science Now]
Drones will spy on endangered species. Well, at least someone is using drone technology for something other than warfare or aerial surveillance. World Wildlife Fund researchers have been granted $5 million by Google for drones that will help them keep tabs on dwindling numbers of rhinos, tigers and elephants in Africa and Asia. "We face an unprecedented poaching crisis," says WWF president Carter Roberts. "The killings are way up. We need solutions that are as sophisticated as the threats we face. This pushes the envelope in the fight against wildlife crime." [BBC News]
Catfish play dead to fool their pigeon prey. Usually, it's birds diving deep to come up with fishy prey, but one type of fish has learned how to turn the tables on their feathery predators. Paul Sabatier University's Julien Cucherousset has observed catfish washing ashore in the southwest of France, intentionally making themselves vulnerable to pigeons only to snap them up when they get close. The samples Cucherousset collected of these strange catfish revealed that those who ate pigeons did less hunting for food in the ocean. Watch their ploy in action in the video below: [Discover]
Mmm, memories. If you're still trying to shed a few post-Thanksgiving pounds, don't get too caught up in memories of the meal. A study published this week finds that just reminiscing about a yummy meal is enough to get your stomach growling. The tricky researchers behind the study built a soup bowl that refilled itself as subjects slurped away. When asked later whether they had consumed a 500 mg can of soup or a 300 mg serving (they actual amount of soup intake from the experiments), many thought they had consumed more. And the memory of that (not actually very) large meal made them even hungrier than control group subjects. [Los Angeles Times]