The things we do for science.
Researchers who study mosquitoes and other blood-sucking insects sometimes use themselves as skeeter chow. In some cases, it’s because certain species of mosquitoes seem to prefer human blood to animal blood. In others, though, it’s a cheap, convenient alternative to keeping animals around for the insects to feed on or buying blood. And as it turns out, once you’ve been bitten a certain number of times you develop a tolerance to mosquito saliva.
Entomologist Steve Schutz, seen above paging through a magazine while the bloodsuckers go to work on his arm, feeds his mosquito colony once a week. He has welts for about an hour, but after that the bites fade, occasionally leaving a few red spots. That’s good, because at 300 bites a week, he averages about 15,000 a year. That’s dedication.
A prophetic story from The Onion in 2003 seems to be coming true: our pets and even lab and wild animals are becoming obese alongside humans:
Amid a barrage of commercials for new diet dog and cat foods, many owners say that their pets are being held to impossibly high animal-body standards perpetrated by the media. “I don’t care what anyone says, my Sassy looks good,” said Janice Guswhite.
Back in the non-satirical world, the findings are alarming. A study of over 20,000 animals from 12 different populations, published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, found that over the last 20 years the animals in every population they studied have been growing significantly tubbier, paralleling the human obesity epidemic.
Not only pets are fattening up–the group also studied wild animals living near humans and animals living in labs and zoos. All of them have been chubbing-out over the last two decades. This could mean we are thinking about the obesity epidemic all wrong, lead author David Allison told Nature News: