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Colorful duck bills hint at sperm quality, plus dangerous jellies and throwback bees in this week’s news

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6:05pm, April 20, 2011
Antimicrobial semen
To find a mallard with superior bactericidal semen, look for the guy with the most colorful bill. Researchers investigating male finery in a range of species have suggested that ornaments may reveal useful information about a potential mate, such as the strength of his immune system. In a new twist, mallard semen itself, especially from some males, has shown the ability to trounce E. coli and other bacteria in lab tests. Female mallards do fancy a colorful bill, so evolution may have favored preferences that reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections or of bacterially damaged sperm, researchers say in an upcoming Biology Letters. —Susan Milius


Jellyfish slay salmon
In a contest between jellyfish and salmon, bet on the jellyfish. The moon jellyfish, Aurelia aurita, can inflict serious damage to Atlantic salmon by corroding the fishes’ gills and inducing hemorrh
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