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Animal of the Month: 5 facts you should know about misnomered orcas

For centuries, orcas have accrued a myriad of different names: Orcinus orca (which translates roughly as “demon from hell”), asesinas de ballena (whale killers), Delphinus orca, grampus, thrasher, blackfish, killer whale, to name a few. The names of these animals are overtly violent, but what do we actually know about the alleged “demons from hell”? This month, we want look at the facts about killer whales, and debunk the centuries-old mystery and fear surrounding orcas.

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Where do our teeth come from? [excerpt]

We all know that we start with baby teeth which fall out and are replaced with adult teeth, but do we really know why? Where do our baby teeth come from in the first place? This adapted extract below from the Oxford Handbook of Integrated Dental Biosciences highlights how our teeth form, why they erupt through our gums when they do, what causes teething pains, and when baby teeth should begin to appear.

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Brexit threatens food supplies and Ministers know it

The story on the front page of The Sunday Times on 3 June 2018 pulled no punches. Headlined “Revealed: plans for Doomsday Brexit”, it reported on leaked government papers planning for a “no deal” Brexit scenario. They warned that the port of Dover could collapse on day one of exiting the EU, with major food shortages within a few days and medicines shortages within two weeks.

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Keeping high risk patients healthy at home

Staying on top of multiple chronic illnesses such as diabetes and heart failure can be a challenge for even the most well-resourced patient – imagine doing so while battling homelessness and schizophrenia. The result is often frequent trips to the emergency department and the hospital. Not surprisingly, many healthcare systems have started implementing programs to address the needs of these patients.

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Nonsurgical challenges in surgical training

Surgical cases dramatized in popular culture are loosely based on reality, but surgery is decidedly less glamorous on a daily basis. Before embarking on my own surgery training, I mentally prepared myself for the long hours and expected demands of caring for sick surgical patients, but looking back, the lessons I remember most came from small, quiet, and often unexpected moments.

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Smoke from wildland fires and public health

Firefighters, forest managements, and residents are preparing for another fire season in the western part of the United States. Wildfires burn large expanses of forested lands in California, but it’s not just rural Californians who need to worry about effects of such fires. Residents in urban areas and neighboring states experience the through smoke from hundreds of miles away.

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Angling for less harmful algal blooms

Blooms bring to mind the emerging beauty of spring—flowers blossoming and trees regaining their splendor. These blooms, unlike spring flowers, are odorous, unpleasant, and potentially toxic. They deter families from engaging in water-related recreational activities such as going to the shore. They discourage anglers from going fishing, which, in turn, affects those who depend on the local fishing economy.

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The end-of-life sector needs concrete solutions to be truly person-centred

In recent years the language used to describe what constitutes good end-of-life care has changed. ‘Shared-decision making’, ‘patient autonomy’, ‘choice’ and ‘advance care planning’ have become buzzwords. This is to be welcomed, of course, but has the sector really changed in practice? According to several policy reports, in addition to feedback from people who use end-of-life services, not particularly.

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Sports impairment in youth with inflammatory bowel disease

Over 80,000 children and adolescents in the United States live with inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD), which includes Crohn’s Disease and Ulcerative Colitis. These are chronic autoimmune diseases that cause inflammation in the gastrointestinal tract.

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An interactive view of the giraffe

Giraffes are some of the best-known, well-loved animals of the African safari. But today, many variations of these long-necked herbivores are listed as vulnerable or endangered due to habitat depletion and poaching.

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Bridging partisan divides over scientific issues

The current era in the Western hemisphere is marked by growing public distrust of “intellectual elites.” The present U.S. administration openly disregards, or even suppresses, relevant scientific input to policy formulation.

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The scary truth about night terrors

Do you know what it’s like to stand near, but helplessly apart, from your child while he screams out in apparent horror during the night? I do. I did it almost nightly for months. It wasn’t necessary. My six-year-old son is one of many children who experienced night terrors. Like most of these children, he has a relative who experienced night terrors as well–I had them when I was a child. Night terrors are not bad dreams or nightmares.

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Gulls on film: roadkill scavenging by wildlife in urban areas

The impact of roads on wildlife (both directly through wildlife-vehicle collisions, and indirectly due to factors such as habitat fragmentation) has likely increased over time due to expansion of the road network and increased use and number of vehicles. In the UK, for example, there were only 4.2 million vehicles on the roads in 1951, compared to 37.3 million by the end of 2016.

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Nine “striking” facts about the history of the typewriter

The first machine known as the typewriter was patented on 23rd June 1868, by printer and journalist Christopher Latham Sholes of Wisconsin. Though it was not the first personal printing machine attempted—a patent was granted to Englishman Henry Mill in 1714, yet no machine appears to have been built—Sholes’ invention was the first to be practical enough for mass production and use by the general public.

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Orangutans as forest engineers

Orangutans quite literally are “persons of the forest,” at least according to their Malay name (orang means “person” and hutan is “forest”). But this is more than just a name. As well as their distinctively “human” qualities, these large charismatic fruit-eaters are also gardeners, forest engineers responsible for spreading and maintaining a wide array of tree species.

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