This week’s Feedback column (that I write) in New Scientist magazine has five segments. Here are bits of each of them:

  • Legless on the shore — Extremities can bring confusion even to trained experts. Joanna Glengarry and Melanie Archer at the Victorian Institute of Forensic Medicine in Australia warn that forensic pathologists and anthropologists “should be prepared to face a variety of presented remains and objects”. Glengarry and Archer present their own firsthand experience – in their words, “a case of what appeared to be a severed foot located on a beach, which examination revealed was a marine animal known as a sea squirt (ascidian)”….
  • Holy ghostwriters— Yes, some people are dismayed when senior department members automatically get co-authorship credit for research done by people of lower status (Feedback, 11 May). But maybe more credit should go to said senior members. Reader Bob Masta writes in about two doctoral students who asked for his advice…. Feedback suggests that these high-powers, the non-author authors, be known unofficially as “holy ghostwriters”.
  • Wholly ghosted writers — Reader Max Perkins proffers an alternate way to deal with the who-gets-listed-as-an-author question….
  • Infectious failure— “Everybody tries to not get Covid but, in this study, all 35 volunteers who tried their best to fall ill (with a lot of help from scientists) completely failed.” Reader Chittaranjan Andrade sent Feedback this cheerful lament after he read a report in The Lancet Microbe….
  • Worms on the turn — Not all flatworms have a pleasant taste. Leigh Winsor reports that the invasive New Guinea flatworm (Platydemus manokwari) “has a most unpleasant astringent taste…”

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