3 Things We Learned About Our Bodies This Month: November 2016

Some cabbages are now more highly evolved than humans; Tasmanian Devils can help defeat antibiotic-resistant superbugs; and Millennials are hard workers.


Australia Has Finally Produced an Animal That Won’t Kill Us

Australia—also known as “God’s Nightmare Factory”—has more things that will bite, claw, poison, eat and simply scare you to death than any other country on Earth. From blue ringed octopi to funnel web spiders, the nation is crawling, creeping and slithering with a multitude of terrible beasts. As such, it seems unfair that the comparatively innocuous Tasmanian Devil was lumbered with such a frightening name, especially since—as new research shows—its milk may be the key to defeating the current crop of antibiotic-resistant superbugs currently plaguing hospitals. A synthetic peptide based on their milk —whose properties are believed to be a result of the critters raising their young in less than sanitary conditions—has been shown to be effective against the dreaded MRSA. There is no word yet on whether it helps with speech impediments.

Millennials Work Just as Hard as Baby Boomers

Despite their reputation for being “challenging” in the workplace, one criticism of millennials that won’t hold water is their lack of work ethic. A study from Wayne State University in Detroit found that the revered “Protestant work ethic” of the baby boomer generation was actually no stronger than that displayed by either gen Xers or millennials, with each group showing similar commitment to hard work. “Organizational initiatives aimed at changing talent management strategies and targeting them for the ‘very different’ millennial generation may be unwarranted and not a value added activity,” claims the study’s lead researcher, Keith Zabel. Looks like the trend in companies setting up special “Millennial Relations” departments may have been a little premature.

Humans Are Slightly Less Evolved Than Cabbages

Researchers from the University of Queensland who studied thale cress—a part of the cabbage family—have found that, in terms of evolution, plants have now overtaken humans. That’s in terms of their G-proteins, at least: These proteins play a huge role in how we perceive and react to threats in our environment, and plants have evolved a wider variety of them. This is out of necessity: While we can move out of the way of an incoming threat, plants are stuck in one place, so they have to develop more sophisticated defenses. Some species of corn and cotton plants, for example, will emit chemical signals when attacked by caterpillars, which attract wasps and other predators to come and eat the hungry bugs. In the human world, meanwhile, the act of instantly attracting a swarm of wasps is known simply as “having a picnic.”