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Mary Toft Admits That She Did Not Really Give Birth to Rabbits

Toft, an English servant, had a bizarre 15 minutes of fame in 1726 when she convinced doctors that she had given birth to a litter of rabbits. At age 25, Toft suffered a miscarriage. About a month later, she appeared to go into labor and proceeded over the next few weeks to "birth" several animal parts along with nine baby bunnies. The episode was attributed to a fascination with rabbits that Toft had developed during her pregnancy—until it was revealed to be a hoax. How had she pulled it off?

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Braconidae

Humans fear wasps for their sting, but some insects, like caterpillars, have a different reason to be wary: they are little more than prey to the more than 50,000 species of parasitoid wasp in the family Braconidae. Most braconids kill their hosts with viruses that suppress the immune system and allow the wasp's eggs to grow inside a host undetected. These polydnaviruses are actually produced by the wasps using viral genes that were integrated into their DNA how many million years ago?

Born on a day like today

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Gerard Peter Kuiper

The "father of modern planetary science," Dutch-American astronomer Gerard Kuiper made many discoveries about the solar system, among them the presence of a methane atmosphere around Saturn's satellite Titan and a carbon dioxide-rich one on Mars and the existence of Uranus's satellite Miranda and Neptune's satellite Nereid. He also proposed the existence of a disk-shaped region of minor planets and comets—now called the Kuiper belt—outside Neptune's orbit. What did he help identify on the Moon?

Last updated on Saturday, 7th December 2013

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