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Scribbles on the margins of science.

On the record

“Allowing an 8-year-old elephant to conceive is the equivalent of allowing your 12-year-old daughter to become pregnant.”

A spokesperson for the International Fund for Animal Welfare reacts to news that Thong Dee, who lives at Sydney's Taronga Zoo, has grown up rather too quickly.


GOING UP: Space veg

Kimchi, South Korea's pickled-cabbage-based treat, has been cleared for launch on the nation's first space expedition this April — minus a bacterium usually used in the recipe that could pose health problems in orbit.

GOING DOWN: Bad brew

Scientists who like a few beers publish fewer papers and get their work cited less often than their more abstemious colleagues, according to Czech research.


Number Crunch

9 shark species are set to be added to the World Conservation Union's list of endangered species this year.

1 fatal shark attack took place worldwide in 2007 — a 20-year low.

33 years ago, Steven Spielberg released Jaws, adding to sharks' fearsome reputation and, in the eyes of some conservationists, worsening their plight.

Showbiz news

Seal appeal

Former Baywatch babe Pamela Anderson has used her publicity-courting skills to speak out against Canada's culling of baby seals. “It sickens me, not just as a Canadian but as a human being,” she explains.

Sources: The Times, BBC, Null Hypothesis, The Guardian,, Reuters

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Sidelines. Nature 451, 875 (2008).

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