This Week in Weird Science: Don’t piss off spiders because the nasty arachnid could easily eat every human on earth, and it’d take them less than a year to do it. In other news, spinach is a bigger super food than initially thought. Not only will it turn green poop brown but it can also serve as the framework for growing a human heart—yes, a live, beating, human heart. And on a final note, your cat actually does love you more than it’s food—but that doesn’t mean it won’t eat you after you die … because it totally will.
It’s easier to deny a hard truth than face one. I prefer denying I’m a ginger than answering whether the carpet matches the drapes. That said, some hard truths just shouldn’t be faced, like this one by biologists Martin Nyffeler and Klaus Birkhofer who calculated that, based on the number of spiders in the world, if the arachnids banded together as if it were a zombie apocalypse, it would take them less than 24 hours to consumer every god-forsaken human on the planet.
The two “biologists,” a.k.a. Manufacturers of Nightmares, published their recent findings in The Science of Nature. The duo noted that the global “spider community”—equating the bug to MENSA or some shit—consumes 400-800 million tons of prey each year. The total biomass of all humans is around 350 million tons. Meaning, if the spider community hosted a movie night in my basement—which it seems they do daily—in which they consumed every human was a piece of popcorn, then there’d still be a handful of party-goers who’d never even get so much as a skin tag—the popcorn kernel of mankind.
To put these spider numbers into some perspective:
- The world’s spider population weighs 29 million tons, or, put alarmingly, 428 Titanics.
- The global average spider density stands at 131 spiders per square meter—PER SQUARE METER! There are some “favorable” densities in which there are 1,000+ spiders per square meter. Probably somewhere in Australia.
- It’d take roughly 2,000 spiders to eat a 200-pound man.
So, thanks for the nightmares, Martin and Klaus.
If Popeye were still here, he’d be yipping the biggest “I told you so” in history because not only does spinach help build ridiculously ripped forearms but it can also build human heart muscles,
The study, published by the journal Biomaterials, sought to find an easy, effective solution to repair tissue in damaged organs, and the solution appears to reside within the structural similarities between of the leafy green and the human heart.
“The main limiting factor for tissue engineering … is the lack of a vascular network,” says study co-author Joshua Gershlak, in a video describing the study. “Without that vascular network, you get a lot of tissue death.”
And spinach has a beautiful vascular structure—with bulging veins like a heroin addict.
How’d they manage this?
The researchers out of Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) found a way to modify the vegetable’s “veins” by removing all of its plant cells, leaving behind just a cellulose frame—much like the cellulose frames used in regenerative medicine, including cartilage and bone tissue engineering.
From there, the team bathed the said frame in live human cells and let the tissue grow. By doing this, the cellulose acts as scaffolding, allowing the heart tissue to envelope it completely. Once encapsed, the researchers injected microbeads into veins of this pseudo heart tissue to see how “blood” would flow. Turns out: Blood flowed smoothly.
“We have a lot more work to do, but so far this is very promising,” said Glenn Gaudette, PhD, professor of biomedical engineering at WPI and corresponding author of the paper in a press statement in Science Daily. “Adapting abundant plants that farmers have been cultivating for thousands of years for use in tissue engineering could solve a host of problems limiting the field.”
As the old Italian proverb says, “Food solves everything.”
Garfield may suggest otherwise, but new research published in Behavioural Processes concludes that cats enjoy interacting with humans more than they enjoy eating food—even lasagna.
In an attempt to understand why cats can be such skittish, anti-social assholes, the team out of Oregon State University analyzed the cognitive habits of fifty felines by depriving them, for a few hours, of kitty essentials like food, people, toys … my door-stopper, my toes.
“Increasingly cat cognition research is providing evidence of their complex socio-cognitive and problem solving abilities,” Kristyn Vitale Shreve, lead author, wrote in the paper. “Nonetheless, it is still common belief that cats are not especially sociable or trainable. This disconnect may be due, in part, to a lack of knowledge of what stimuli cats prefer, and thus may be most motivated to work for.”
The researchers then presented the kitties with different stimuli for each category—food, toy, a nice scent, a human (really, just a different kind of toy, right?). Turns out: 50-percent of cats tested preferred human, social interaction to every other stimuli, while only 37-percent preferred the food—must’ve been Purina.
None of these means that all cats would rather have a belly rub than a dirty sock. Like humans, all cats are different and their behaviors are shaped by life experiences. Some kitties love lounging with their human host, whereas others would rather eat lasagna and shit on their friend Odie.
Top photo by olavgg CC BY-SA 2.0
Tommy Burson is a travel writer, part-time hitchhiker, and he’s currently trying to imitate Where in the World is Carmen San Diego but with more sunscreen and jorts.