Breathing through your butt could save your life
Plus: How to re-enter society in a post-Covid world without losing your cool.
You might not know what “enteral ventilation via anus” means, but this curious process could be the future of treatments for lung failure — including oxygen deprivation as a result of severe Covid-19.
Enteral ventilation via the anus is essentially the scientific way to describe breathing via one’s rectum and intestines. Until now, scientists had thought this strange capability was the preserve of certain kinds of bottom-feeding fish. But as Inverse nature reporter Tara Yarlagadda explains, in a breathtaking new paper, a group of researchers lays out evidence suggesting mammals can breathe through their derrieres, too:
The fact that land-based mammals and aquatic species share the capacity for this breathing is a remarkable finding for evolutionary biology. But it’s a pretty controversial idea within the medical research community, according to the scientists.
I am Claire Cameron, managing editor of Inverse. Greet the week and keep scrolling for the inside scoop on why this paper is so controversial, some seriously practical advice on re-entry post-vaccination, and more.
This is an adapted version of the Inverse Daily newsletter for May 17, 2021. Subscribe for free and earn rewards for reading every day in your inbox.
Russia’s secret world of whale spies — Alleged whale spy Hvaldimir is back in the news as a result of a BBC report on a group of activists who are lobbying Norway to create a sanctuary for the enigmatic whale. Dive into the wild history of spy cetaceans with Yarlagadda:
It was a fisherman who first spotted Hvaldimir in April 2019, swimming in Norwegian waters. He contacted a local marine biologist, who contacted the Norwegian Department for Fisheries, who sent an inspector to evaluate what exactly was going on. But when the fisherman dived into the frigid water to remove Hvaldimir’s harness, he encountered the strangest element of the story: the harness had a camera mount and the inscription “Equipment St. Petersburg.”
As a result, the Norwegian government dubbed the enigmatic Hvaldimir — a cheeky combination of “Hval,” or Norwegian for “whale,” and an inversion of Russian President Vladimir Putin’s first name.
Considering his location and equipment, it’s speculated the beluga whale was trained and used by the Russian Navy. This has never been officially confirmed.
As Yarlagadda reports, snooping whales are no thriller fantasy. They’re likely real.
- Your employer may be spying on you — here are 3 ways to stop it
- The secret to cancer research may lie in this one marine mammal
- Russia-China Moonbase: The U.S. now has a critical choice to make
How to navigate adult friendships if you've let relationships slip — If you feel anxious about reconnecting, you are likely not alone. If getting back in touch with friends is something you want to do — and science suggests that’s a healthy choice — there are actionable steps you can take to make it easier. Inverse reporter Katie MacBride spoke to the experts to understand what anxiety over reconnecting may be caused by. Here’s what she hit on:
- Concern that the friend or the friendship isn’t what you thought.
- Guilt over having disconnected or resentment of having been neglected.
- Comfort with your situation.
- Concern that one or both parties don’t want to reconnect.
If you see yourself in any of the above, MacBride shares expert-backed strategies to move past these concerns and get back with your friends.
A key takeaway: “It’s reasonable to choose a path that is different from ‘what I used to do’ and use the insight gained from going through this difficult period for the better.”
- Sleep science: 3 easy hacks for a good night's rest
- Having intense dreams after your Covid-19 shot? An expert explains why
- Zoom dates became the norm during Covid-19. Should it stay that way?
Exclusive: We have Jason Schreier's favorite chicken recipe — Attention foodies! In addition to being an investigative journalist, Jason Schreier is also a cooking enthusiast. Here's a look at one of his favorite recipes, which he shared with Inverse staffer Corey Plante: chicken thighs cooked with shallots, capers, garlic, some butter, and another controversial ingredient — anchovies.
When he isn’t covering the video game industry, Schreier is an anchovy evangelist it seems.
“Stick a bunch of boneless chicken thighs in that, and let the fat render into a sauce. Flip ‘em, add salt and butter, and then when you’re done you’ve got this delicious umami sauce.”
Easy. That’s your midweek meal sorted (if, of course, you don’t subscribe to a plant-based diet).
- TikTok vegan chicken recipe: Why flour and water make fake meat
- Jason Schreier on Press Reset, GTA 6 rumors, and his fave chicken recipe
- Food scientists debunk a wasteful myth about expiration dates
Some mammals can breathe through their butt — Scientists reveal some types of mammals, such as pigs and rodents, can breathe through their intestines like aquatic animals. Inverse writer Tara Yarlagadda reports:
It sounds stranger than fiction: Scientists helped pigs and rodents breathe through their gut by inserting oxygen into animals’ butts via an enema.
A researcher on the new paper breaks down what it likely looks like when mammals breathe using this little-understood intestinal mechanism:
- Scientists deliver oxygen gas or liquid oxygen — perfluorocarbon — to the animal’s rectum via the EVA method.
- Scientists deprive the animals’ bodies of oxygen. Critically, the oxygen provided during EVA helps keep these animals alive in these hypoxic conditions, circulating around the rectum and gut.
- An exchange of gases — oxygen and carbon dioxide — occurs, as would normally happen during breathing. Oxygen and carbon dioxide travel between the lungs, bloodstream, and heart, supplying the body with oxygen.
Finally: When using liquid oxygen, some liquid will then be excreted from the anus. This procedure can get a little messy.
The researchers tested their experiment on mice and pigs to confirm intestinal breathing could work in mammals of different sizes — and it did.
Here’s why it could benefit humans fighting Covid-19.
- Why do animals play? Science explains a longstanding mystery
- Pick up parenting tips from 7 of nature’s most metal mothers
- Look at 8 animals scientists already discovered in 2021
Algae, house-flies, and four other weird foods scientists say are the future — If you aren’t interested in Jason Schreier’s chicken recipe, then Inverse reporter Sophie Putka has some alternative foods you might find more appetizing.
Researchers at the University of Cambridge published a report in Nature Food proposing a new food system and the “future foods” that could fuel it. They think it’s one that could take on the growing threats to food supply chains around the world.
“Eradicating malnutrition is not so much a matter of piecemeal developments in crop and livestock efficiency, rather radical alterations and advancements in farming systems,” Asaf Tzachor tells Inverse. Tzachor is the senior author of the study and a researcher at the Centre for the Study of Existential Risk at the University of Cambridge.
“To future-proof our food supply we must pioneer completely new ways of farming.”
Among these crucial future foods are insects, algae, and seaweed. But would you eat any of them?
- 7 sustainable “future foods” you need to eat
- Ikea-like pasta is the Earth-friendly food of the future
- Food scientists debunk a dangerous myth about moldy food
Let me know what you think of this daily dispatch by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. You can follow me on Twitter at @ClaireHCameron, where I share some of my favorite stories from Inverse and elsewhere around the web every day.
May 17 anniversary — In 1957, Martin Luther King Jr. and other civil rights leaders take part in the Prayer Pilgrimage for Freedom, a civil rights demonstration in Washington, D.C.