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So Gerbils Are Pretty Cute, Right? WRONG, They Actually Caused The Black Plague

They should have used some Gerbil Essences.

Turns out gerbils have done the world double dirty: not only did they start the bubonic plague, but they've also been letting rats take the rap for it for the last half-century. Uncool, gerbils. Majorly uncool.

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A “Soft But Stretchable” Neural Implant Helped These Paralyzed Rats Walk

Researchers at the École polytechnique fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) created a "soft but stretchable" neural implant that is "the first of its kind that can be implanted directly on the spinal cord, without damaging it."

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Even Wild Mice Really Dig Running Around in Wheels

Treadmills: not just for the chronically lazy anymore!

When you buy a rodent or small creature as a pet, you're usually encouraged to buy that pet a little wheel—the logic being that they won't get to run around as much inside that tiny cage and will need something to burn off all their extra neurotic rodent energy. But apparently, it's not just captivity-bred animals who find wheels fun.

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Study Shows Lab Rodents Lose Their Shit Around Men

At least this is good news for female scientists? Maybe?

A study published today in Nature is casting doubt on the results of countless pre-clinical trials performed using lab rodents. Researchers through the University of McGill have discovered that mice and rats freak the fuck out in the presence of men—so by the transitive property, I guess I am also a rodent?

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Rats May Be off the Hook for that Whole “Spreading the Plague” Thing Thanks to New Research

Good. Splinter needed a win.

Rats have a bad reputation despite being adorable, intelligent, and proficient in the secret art of ninja. That might have something to do with the fact that rats and their fleas took the blame for the spread of the Black Plague in the 14th century, but new research may exhonorate them. Forensic scientists now say the plague infection was airborne.

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Scientists Tickle Rats to Help Make Better Antidepressants

How could you be sad while tickle-fighting a rat?

Whether or not animals have a sense of humor has been investigated in many ways over the years, but one of the most adorable has to be in Jaak Panksepp and Jeffrey Burgdorf's experiments in tickling rats. Now, their work in adorable rodent tickle fights is helping to craft new "laughing pill" antidepressants.

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New York’s Rat Portal Map Reminds You Everything Is Disgusting

Who Runs The World? Rats!

If you live in New York City or another large metropolis, you probably spend a fair amount of time avoiding, trying to kill, or freaking out over rats. Now New York's Department Of Health And Mental Hygiene has developed an interactive map to confirm our suspicions that New York is just a big rat city some humans occasionally live in.

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This Rat Found the Ultimate Exercise Wheel, Is Also a Metaphor for Futility

Run, little rat, run.

This video shows a rat attempting to run down an upward moving escalator in the San Francisco Civic Center BART station. The sad music in the background really sets the tone as one singular rodent faces insurmountable odds as it tries to get home. Or maybe it's just exercising. Either way, it's fairly hypnotic.

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New Theory About Easter Island Claims Success Where Others Cry Failure

Yet another theory just cries, "Aliens!"

Most people view Easter Island as a failure -- an example of the dangers of exhausting limited resources. Anthropologists Terry Hunt and Carl Lipo have written a new book, The Statues That Walked, that looks at it different. Their proposed theory states that rats, not humans, are to blame -- but also to thank.

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Researchers May Have Found a Scientific Explanation For Near Death Experiences

Now if we could just determine the reason for the angelic chorus that appears when I eat cake...

Many on their deathbeds, in fiction and reality, report seeing a tunnel with a bright light at its end, an experience so common it's become a cliche. While some believe the light is heaven (which makes life a giant, smelly subway station, I guess?), researchers have found new evidence that these visions may stem from electrical surges in the brain.

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Brain-to-Brain Connection Established Between Humans and Rats

Step One: Learn to control rat brains. Step Two: CONTROL ALL THE BRAINS

Harvard researchers have devised a way to create a functioning link between the brain of a human and a lab rat that lets a thought from the human test subject cause the rat to move its own tail. The research could prove to be a major expansion to the field of brain-computer interface (BCI), translating thoughts through a computer to another brain.

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First Successful Interspecies Cell Transplants Could Pave the Way for Future Pig-to-Human Transplants

Transplanting insulin producing cells from rats to mice isn't human medicine yet, but it's a hell of a first step.

Researchers at Northwestern Medicine have successfully transplanted insulin-producing cells across species lines -- removing cells from rats and implanting them in mice -- without using drugs to prevent rejection of the foreign cells. While the transplant may seem like a small victory -- mice and rats are pretty similar, after all -- it marks a significant step forward in interspecies transplants that could one day save human lives by allowing the implantation of insulin-producing "islet" cells without necessitating the use of immunosuppressive drugs that can have dire side effects. 

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Being Lazy May Not Be Your Fault, Say Scientists Who Aren’t

Good news, couch potatoes! It may not be your fault that you don't want to get off your butt and be productive. In a display of not at all being lazy themselves, researchers at the University of Missouri have deduced that genetic traits might make some people prone to low motivation and inactivity.

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To Sniff or Not to Sniff: Animals Display Social Hierarchy Through, Well, You Get the Idea

We all know that animals have great noses -- especially bears, sharks, rats, and dogs -- and that they're far superior to our own lousy sniffers. We know this because we use man's best friend as trackers and detection dogs, because we're afraid of sharks if even a drop of blood hits the water, and because in 3rd Edition D&D most animal stat blocks include the Scent (Ex) special ability. But there's more to sniffing than just sheer olfactory might. According to a new study, the act of sniffing itself communicates the complex social status between animals.

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Iran Rolls Out Teams of Snipers to Battle Enormous Mutant Rats

The Iranian capitol of Tehran is suffering from a pest problem we don't envy -- Rodents of Unusual Size have come to plague the city. While they're not the nearly human sized creatures native to the Fire Swamp, Iranian officials have reported that the "genetically mutated" creatures weigh in at up to 11 pounds. That's larger than some of the cats that prowl the city's streets, and big enough to warrant government backed teams of snipers whose job is to hunt down the voluminous vermin, because of course they're resistant to traditional poison. Of course they are.

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Wired Telepathy: Neural Implants Let Two Rats Share One Thought

Researchers at Duke University have successfully wired together the brains of two rats, allowing the animals to share a response to a stimulus -- hitting a switch when a light flashes, for example -- even when only one of them is actually exposed to it. And the connection isn't just for deliberate decision making --after a prolonged period of connection, rats were even able to feel and respond to researchers stroking the whiskers of the rat they are brain linked to.

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Japanese Researchers Build Robotic Rat Literally Just To Terrorize Actual Lab Rats

Life as a lab rat isn't exactly great. The digs are nice and the food is good, sure, but it's a lifetime of being poked, prodded, put through mazes, having electrodes put in uncomfortable places, and eventually probably being dissected to see what effect all those things had on your poor brain. So while we're all for suffering in the name of scientific progress, it seems a little much that researchers at Japan's Waseda University have created a robotic rat specifically designed only to terrorize their organic lab rats, inducing stress and depression that they can then study.

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Bionic Whiskers Could Teach Humans A New Sense

Have you even wondered  what life would be like if you could SEE with your BEARD? No? Us neither, until we came across a paper released recently in the Journal of Neuroscience. Researchers at the Weizmann Institute in Israel are teaching blindfolded subjects an entirely new sense, similar to one rats and mice use to orient themselves in space with their whiskers. To bring about this new form of sensory input in humans, they're using a set of bionic whiskers made for people.

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Mutant “Super-rats” Invade England, Are Immune To Standard Poisons

Are you looking for a pretty sure sign of the coming apocalypse? We've got you covered. The British town of Gloucestershire is being overrun by mutated "super-rats" that are immune to conventional poisons, according to a new study. We're pretty sure this was also covered in Revelations somewhere, if we know our Bible. Which we certainly don't.

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Rare Rodent Resurfaces 113 Years After Its Last Sighting

The red-crested tree rat is a South American rodent that was first discovered by taxonomists in 1898, and described in 1899. But alas, they've been shy since: Those two specimens discovered in 1898 were the only ones known to modern science for over a century, and subsequent taxonomic work has only been able to refer to those specimens. It was an open question whether and how it should even be categorized as a species at all, given the lack of data. But all that changed earlier this month when volunteers at Columbia's El Dorado Nature Reserve discovered a red-crested tree rat, pictured above -- or rather, it discovered them.

The animal was rediscovered by Lizzie Noble and Simon McKeown - two volunteers with ProAves monitoring endangered amphibians. It posed for photographs - including close-ups -before calmly proceeding back to the forest. "He just shuffled up the handrail near where we were sitting and seemed totally unperturbed by all the excitement he was causing. We are absolutely delighted to have rediscovered such a wonderful creature after just a month of volunteering with ProAves. Clearly the El Dorado Reserve has many more exciting discoveries waiting," said Lizzie Noble from Godalming, England.
Following this discovery, the red-crested tree rat is likely to be classified as a critically endangered species. (Fundacion ProAves via Wired)

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