Discovered: Last year was the worst shark attack year since 2000; underage drinkers are partial to Bud Light and Smirnoff; dogs understand us more than we thought; help name Pluto's new moons.
Shark attacks at a 12-year-high. If he were looking to play on public fears and scary headlines, Steven Spielberg might want to start thinking about making a Jaws 5. Shark attacks in the U.S. are the highest they've been since 2000, according to a new report from the University of Florida's International Shark Attack File. Last year saw 53 shark attacks, with seven of them turning deadly. However, Shark Attack File director George Burgess notes that these events remain extremely rare, and we shouldn't follow Western Australia's example of sanctioning free-for-alls on sharks. "The concept of 'let’s go out and kill them' is an archaic approach to a shark attack problem, and its opportunities for success are generally slim-to-none," he says. "It's mostly a feel-good revenge — like an 'eye for an eye' approach — when in fact you're not likely to catch the shark that was involved in the situation." [University of Florida]
Underage drinkers gravitate toward a small number of brands. When kids under the age of 21 manage to get their hands on alcohol, they're usually clutching a can of Bud Light or a handle of Smirnoff according to a new survey from Boston University and Johns Hopkins researchers. They drew up a list of the top 25 brands involved in underage alcohol consumption, finding that Bud Light was consumed within the last month by approximately 27.9 percent of respondents. Seventeen percent had a Smirnoff malt beverage, and Smirnoff vodka was the most consumed hard liquor. Coors Light, Jack Daniel's, Corona, and Captain Morgan also placed high. "For the first time, we know what brands of alcoholic beverages underage youth in the U.S. are drinking," says researcher David Jernigan, director of the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. "Importantly, this report paves the way for subsequent studies to explore the association between exposure to alcohol advertising and marketing efforts and drinking behavior in young people." [Johns Hopkins]
Dogs get people more than we thought. Man's best friend isn't just begging for a treat and some pets, according to new research published in Animal Cognition. A study of 84 dogs shows that canines can understand situations from a human's point of view better than we previously thought. For instance, dogs become more likely to steal off-limits food when lights are turned off — suggesting that they realize they're more likely to get away with it when their human can't see them gobbling up the forbidden treat. "These results suggest humans might be right, where dogs are concerned, but we still can't be completely sure if the results mean dogs have a truly flexible understanding of the mind and others' minds," says Juliane Kaminski, a psychology with the University of Portsmouth. "It has always been assumed only humans had this ability." [BBC News]
Pluto has two new moons, and you can help name them. Hydra, Charon, and Nix have two new neighbors. Well, these two "new" moons have already been orbiting Pluto for some time, but SETI researchers just discovered them in the last two years. And now you can help pick which intimidating Greek names astronomers will use to refer to them. Mark Showalter's SETI team is soliciting votes for the moons' new names, as long as the input follows International Astronomical Union guidelines. Voters must be classic rock fans, because so far Styx is the leading choice. [New Scientist]