Letters from the November 12, 2005, issue of Science News

Big leap

The pendular running gait described in “Stepping Lightly: New view of how human gaits conserve energy” (SN: 9/17/05, p. 182) as one of the most efficient bipedal gaits looks remarkably like the way eyewitnesses claim Bigfoot creatures move. In a Bigfoot hoax, one might use a gait that is unhuman but energy efficient, as the costume would be rather heavy. On the other hand, since such a gait is energy efficient, perhaps an unknown species of massive primates might have evolved to use it.

Wayne Harris-Wyrick
Oklahoma City, Okla.

Tooth teller

In “Oral Exams: Saliva could produce an alternative for some diagnostic tests” (SN: 9/17/05, p. 187), biologist Paul Denny indicates that if the test of the saliva shows that the young patient is at high risk for developing cavities, then extra precautions could be taken such as sealants and fluoride treatments. As a practicing dentist, I wish to point out that both of those procedures are routine with any dentist treating children. Where this saliva test would be valuable is in predicting dental caries in areas not accessible to visual exam: between teeth in tight contact. If indicated, more-aggressive preventive treatment could be given.

Theodore Blinder
Havertown, Pa.

Desert air

In “Save the Flowers” (SN: 9/24/05, p. 202), there was a line or two about carnations with an aroma of Earl Grey tea or fruit loops. Well, here in the Sonoran Desert, we have wildflowers that smell like sweaty gym socks, grape Kool-Aid, or even rotting meat. When I was helping edit a desert-wildflower book years ago, I found the information we discovered about flower scents amazing.

Jane Cole
Phoenix, Ariz.

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