"It's underappreciated how little is known about the biodiversity of small mammals, especially in tropical parts of the world," said Tom Giarla, professor of biology at Siena College in New York and lead author of the study. "We're not discovering a whole lot of new lions, tigers, and bears, but there's an incredible potential for discovery of new species of small mammals because they're tough to find. And they're sort of underappreciated animals -- they're really cool when you start to learn about their ecology. These are semi-aquatic mice, so they're not just your average, everyday rodents."
One of my favorite TED talks is by the neurophysiologist David Eagleman, who combines two things that don't always show up together; intelligence and scientific insight, and the ability to explain complex ideas in a way that a layperson can understand and appreciate.
His first book, Incognito, was a wonderful introduction to the workings of the human brain, and in my opinion is one of the best books out there on the subject. So I was thrilled to see he had a new book out -- and this one is the Skeptophilia book recommendation of the week.
In Livewired: The Inside Story of the Ever-Changing Brain, Eagleman looks at the brain in a new way; not as a static bunch of parts that work together to power your mind and your body, but as a dynamic network that is constantly shifting to maximize its efficiency. What you probably learned in high school biology -- that your brain never regenerates lost neurons -- is misleading. It may be true that you don't grow any new neural cells, but you're always adding new connections and new pathways.
Understanding how this happens is the key to figuring out how we learn.
In his usual fascinating fashion, Eagleman lays out the frontiers of neuroscience, giving you a glimpse of what's going on inside your skull as you read his book -- which is not only amusingly self-referential, but is kind of mind-blowing. I can't recommend his book highly enough.
[Note: if you purchase this book using the image/link below, part of the proceeds goes to support Skeptophilia!]