# News this Week

Science  30 May 2014:
Vol. 344, Issue 6187, pp. 950
1. # Random Sample

The imperiled fauna of Madagascar may face a deadly new threat—a highly toxic toad. In late March, Jonathan Kolby of James Cook University, Townsville, in Australia and other researchers caught six Asian common toads (Duttaphrynus melanostictus) near the seaport of Toamasina. The species is common in Southeast Asia, spread to Bali in 1958, and has since invaded other parts of Indonesia. The toads appear to be harming native wildlife in East Timor, like their relative the cane toad has done in Australia. The Asian toad has deadly chemical defenses similar to the cane toad. Because there are no native toads in Madagascar, predators such as mongooses, lemurs, and more than 50 species of snakes are at risk of poisoning. The voracious, fertile toad could also compete with native frogs for food. “This is the worst thing I've seen come along in a while,” says Fred Kraus of the Bishop Museum in Honolulu. “It makes one's blood chilled.” Writing in a letter to Nature this week, Kolby, Kraus, and 10 colleagues call for urgent eradication. Researchers are scouting around Toamasina to see how far the toad may have spread. “We hope that we've found it soon enough,” Kolby says. “If it hasn't spread that far yet, then we've got hope.”

“Using vaccinators for these purposes is the moral equivalent of running guns in Red Cross ambulances—and the world rejected that many many years ago.”

Stefano Bertozzi, dean of public health at the University of California, Berkeley, responding to a White House vow that the CIA will stop using vaccination programs as cover for spying.

## New York City

### Yelp reviews track illness

Taking citizen science to a new level, New Yorkers who used the online rating site Yelp to review restaurants between July 2012 and March 2013 also unwittingly helped the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) hunt for outbreaks of foodborne disease. Using software developed at Columbia University, the DOHMH pilot project analyzed 294,000 reviews, searching for keywords such as “vomit” and “diarrhea.” After flagging 893 reviews for further evaluation by an epidemiologist, DOHMH eventually interviewed 27 reviewers by phone—and identified three “previously unreported restaurant-related outbreaks” involving 16 people; in each case, they even identified the likely food culprit. The researchers described the unusual effort on 23 May in the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. But, they note, investigating reports of illness this way could require “considerable time and resources.”

3. # Newsmakers

## Three Q's

Earlier this month, the National Aquarium in Baltimore, Maryland, announced that it was considering moving its eight Atlantic bottlenose dolphins to a marine sanctuary (http://scim.ag/baltdolphins). The aquarium's CEO, John Racanelli, has wrestled with the ethics of keeping dolphins in captivity for decades.

Q:What got you thinking about the welfare of captive dolphins?

A:One of my first jobs was cleaning the dolphin tank at Marine World in San Francisco in the early 1970s. One of the dolphins died right after a show. I just remember thinking, “She worked her whole life. She never got to retire.”

Q:How has the National Aquarium changed its approach to dolphins?

A:In 1991, we were doing seven shows a day. Then, two baby dolphins died in 2011, and we stopped the shows. Today, the public can see the dolphins, but there's no music and no TV monitors. The dolphins have more time to just goof around.

Q:Will aquariums exist in the future?

A:I believe there will always be a place for aquaria. People find it fascinating to see a world they wouldn't see any other way. But when you start talking about higher order animals, the public gets uncomfortable seeing them in captivity.

## Famed anthropologist dies

Emory University biological anthropologist George Armelagos, who helped found the field of paleopathology, died 15 May, 6 days after being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He continued to teach, mentor, and publish until his death at age 77. Armelagos, the son of Greek immigrants, was a graduate student in 1967 when he excavated Nubian human skeletons in Sudan dating back 10,000 years. Studying patterns of diet, disease, and death in these and other skeletons, he published a flurry of groundbreaking papers in paleopathology, including how changes in diet with the origin of agriculture influenced their health. He won many honors and was also known for his criticism of the concept of race. A much-loved mentor, many of his former students honored him in 2013 at a daylong session of the American Association of Physical Anthropologists.