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December 29 2012
Ah, science. Sure, it does plenty of amazing things for society: finding treatments for cancer, putting people in space. But along the way, scientists also discover some truly bizarre things about the way the world works. From DNA-devouring worms to M&M-crazed bees, here are some of the strangest science stories of the year.
Hold the sex, pass the DNA
Sure, birds do it, bees do it, but rotifer worms don't bother. Having sex is a key way for species to increase their genetic diversity and prevent the buildup of harmful genetic mutations. But an all-female worm called the bdelloid rotifer seems to have kept its kind alive for 80 million years without engaging in sex. Instead of cozying up to a fellow rotifer, the creature devours fungi and bacteria and incorporates some of that DNA into its own genetic code. The DNA meals may provide a healthy dose of antioxidants, the researchers propose.
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