Leash leader

My attention was immediately drawn to “Leashing the Rattlesnake” (SN: 9/27/03, p. 200: Leashing the Rattlesnake). You see, in the late 1970s, as a graduate student at the University of California, Davis, I developed a snake-tethering technique with the assistance of one of the campus veterinarians, Scott E. McDonald. The article falsely attributes rattlesnake leashing to others.

David F. Hennessy
Sacramento, Calif.

Yes, David Hennessy and five other authors describe the loop implant in a Behaviour article in 1981. Ron Swaisgood tried that method before deciding to use duct tape. He never claimed to have invented the implant.–S. Milius

More controversy, please

“Nobel prizes go to scientists harnessing odd phenomena” (SN: 10/11/03, p. 229: Nobel prizes go to scientists harnessing odd phenomena) didn’t include even a hint about the controversy about the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine. Many people believe that Raymond Damadian should have gotten at least a share in the prize. Damadian saw and demonstrated the potential for using MRI as a medical-scanning technique when others found the idea laughable.

David L. Bump
Flushing, Mich.

Evolution resolution

The article “Visionary Research: Scientists delve into the evolution of color vision in primates” (SN: 10/11/03, p. 234: Visionary Research) states that “trichromacy originally evolved for picking out the most nutritious leaves.” I teach high school students to avoid this kind of statement in regard to evolution. The trait arose by accident (nicely explained in the article) and then became more abundant in the population because it conferred an advantage on the organisms that possessed it (natural selection). I know that’s a lot to say, but my experience in teaching evolution has shown me that misunderstandings in this area run deep.

Will Warren
Colchester High School
Colchester, Vt.


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