Weekly PLoS ONE News and Blog Round-Up

In this week’s PLoS ONE media digest: America’s growing waists—and waste; the strong-arm tactics of raptors; biological tools of the traders; and much more.

The day before the turkey was roasted and the cranberry sauce and pumpkin pie prepared for the Thanksgiving holiday, Kevin Hall and colleagues published a paper in PLoS ONE, which reported that US per capita food waste has risen by about 50% since 1974 to over 1400 Calories per person per day. The researchers suggest that addressing the over-supply of food energy in the US could help to tackle the obesity epidemic and to reduce food waste, which would have profound consequences for the environment. The study has been picked up by the EconomistScienceNOW, LiveScience, Journal Watch and CBC.

On Wednesday, Denver Fowler and colleagues published an article on claw use in birds of prey—given that fowler is a (now rare) term for “one who hunts birds,” fans of nominative determinism will probably enjoy this. In the study, the researchers examined the feet of different families of birds of prey or “raptors,” including hawks, ospreys, falcons in owls and found great variety in the size and shape of the claws of birds from different families. The birds’ different killing techniques could account for the differences in the size and shape of the talons, according to the researchers—a falcon attacking its prey at great speed is more likely to kill the prey on impact, whereas hawks, eagles and owls, which attack on or near the ground, need to be able to restrain the struggling prey, for example. Wired Science, Not Exactly Rocket Science, 80beats and Palaeoblog featured the study.

In their recent PLoS ONE paper, University of Cambridge researchers identify a group of financial traders who consistently make money trading the market. Previous research has shown that high prenatal androgen exposure is associated with high profits—exposure levels are determined using second to fourth finger ratio (2D:4D), a surrogate measure of this. In the new study, the researchers found that prenatal exposure to androgens is correlated with traders’ amount of risk-taking rather than their skill or Sharpe Ratio (the amount of money made per unit of risk taken) and that the highest performers had a high 2D:4D and were more experienced traders. Some of the news coverage of the study includes the Times, the Telegraph and Reuters and you can read a piece by study author John Coates in the Financial Times.

Other PLoS ONE papers in the press and the blogosphere this week include:

And finally, a happy Thanksgiving to all of our authors, reviewers, readers and to our editorial board—we at PLoS ONE are very thankful to you all!

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