The ibis bird lives in marshes, which as you can guess are areas characterized by massive amounts of freestanding water. Unfortunately, a lot of that water is polluted with toxic runoff from mines and burning coal, which includes chemicals like mercury. We've known for a long time the dangers for the development of wildlife when they are exposed to large amounts of mercury, but then came a twist no one saw coming.
While scientists were concerning themselves with the effect of mercury on local fish populations, they noticed a startling number of male birds in the same habitat boning each other.
Seeing as the latter was far more interesting, they did an experiment. They subjected a group of ibis birds to the same amount of mercury they would ordinarily get from their diet in the wetlands, and they found that the more mercury a male bird ingested, the more likely he was to pair with another male. This turned out to be because mercury caused testosterone levels to plummet.
"Pfft. The only mercury we're concerned with is of the Freddie variety."
This naturally affects the birds' reproduction rates, and the newly gay males have all but given up on any of the usual courtship rituals, which is exactly one of the luxuries men joke about when they say how easy it would be to just date their guy friends. The difference is, these birds actually have the courage to go through with it. The courage, and also massive amounts of mercury.
"Suddenly I care that it's after Labor Day."
Obesity is a serious problem for humanity, with over 1 billion people globally trundling around under the weight of their own bodies as their insides churn food into Crisco. Yet aside from lazy, overstuffed house pets and livestock, we never really see fat animals. There are no winded, pudgy cheetahs that have to break for a breather and a soda before they get back to sprinting across the savannah.
However, recent studies show there's at least one animal in the wild that is starting to get fatter, and the problem isn't diet, it's us.
"It turns out we humans are the true animals, Mr. Cheesington."
Well, it's air pollution to be exact. Researchers have found that mice and rats turn into tiny pie wagons just by gulping in the average amount of particulate pollution from an urban environment. In controlled tests, two sets of young mice were given the same diet, and the only difference was that one set was exposed to increased levels of air pollution. By the simple virtue of being exposed to the equivalent of "city air," mice experience increased fat buildup and increased blood sugar levels. Both sets of mice were fed healthy diets, so this test doesn't even account for all the Cheez Whiz and unfinished doughnuts mice are inevitably scrounging in urban settings.
"Got any Doritos?"
But so what? Pests are getting fatter and slower -- if anything, that's a good thing, right? Actually, no. The test was designed to determine if pollution could have an effect on human obesity. It's not clear yet that there's a definite link, but it means that every time you decide to drive instead of walk, you're potentially not only making yourself fatter, but also contributing to everyone else's fat ass as well.
"I'm on a diet."
Take a minute right now to stop and listen to everything around you. Chances are you will hear cars, a plane, maybe some music, people talking and at the very least the hum of your computer. The point is, you are almost always surrounded by man-made noise. We're just noisy creatures, and our technology has only amplified the problem. While most of us have gotten used to it, or even come to enjoy it, we're certainly not the only ones who have to listen to it.
For animals, we are the worst goddamn neighbors in the world. Aside from the light pollution and the very literal pollution that we're responsible for, we're also indirectly keeping animals from having sex with each other.
From bats, frogs and owls to dolphins and crabs, we're messing up their lives with all our noise. And for animals with mating calls (like frogs and birds), we are ruining their love lives. The main problem is that they just can't hear each other.
In the case of tree frogs, the male's mating calls can't compete with traffic noise. Environmentalists are so worried about it that they expect to see huge dips in population. With birds, the noise is causing them to leave cities in droves in favor of somewhere they can actually attract a mate.
Or at the very least a place where they can pay for it.
Some birds, however, have decided to stick it out and are forcing themselves to sing even louder. Nightingales in Berlin, for instance, have started singing at decibel levels equal to a motorcycle. Birds have actually made themselves hoarse doing it, which has researchers worried that this will lead to either birds leaving cities altogether or the evolution of a race of birds with supervoices.
Now think back to the entry about the cursing birds and imagine a future where the trees all scream slurs at us at a volume louder than a jackhammer.
It would basically be like playing at any New York sporting event.