How to go old-school psycho: St. Anthony's Fire

On the wall of a simple Romanesque church in the tiny French village of Lavardin, there is a strange fresco. It depicts the figure of an uncannily calm St. Anthony ministering to a horde of writhing, sufferers of what is today known as "St. Anthony's Fire." Anthony was a hermetic monk who lived in third century Egypt, and was known to suffer great psychological trials, regarded as assaults on him by Satan. These included horrific visions, hallucinations and frightening voices. The psychological condition was named when, in another remote French village in 1151, hundreds of people went mad. They had hallucinations, writhed in agony in their beds, vomited, ran crazily in the streets and suffered terrible burning sensations in their limbs. It was eventually discovered, however, that rather than being tortured by the Devil, the townspeople had consumed bread tainted by a fungus that grows on rye grass, called ergot. Check out The Temptation of St. Anthony, and get the skinny on ergot, after the jump:

Ergot, according to Medicinenet, "contains a chemical called ergotamine that makes the sufferers go berserk and causes gangrene of the hands and feet due to constriction of blood supply to the extremities. If it is not treated (and this was not possible in the Middle Ages), victims had the sensation of being burned at the stake, before their fingers, toes, hands and feet dropped off. In moderate doses, ergotamine causes the contraction of smooth muscle fibers, such as those in small arteries. Ergotamine has been used to control hemorrhage (bleeding) and to promote contraction of the uterus during childbirth. It is also used to treat migraine headaches (its major use today). But in large doses, ergotamine paralyzes the motor nerve endings of the sympathetic nervous system."

In other words, this happens:

Bone Broth 101

Whether you drink it on its own or use it as stock, bone broth is the perfect recipe to master this winter. Special thanks to the Institute of Culinary Education

Why Can Parrots Talk and Other Birds Can't?

If you've ever seen a pirate movie (or had the privilege of listening to this avian-fronted metal band), you're aware that parrots have the gift of human-sounding gab. Their brains—not their beaks—might be behind the birds' ability to produce mock-human voices, the Sci Show's latest video explains below.

While parrots do have articulate tongues, they also appear to be hardwired to mimic other species, and to create new vocalizations. The only other birds that are capable of vocal learning are hummingbirds and songbirds. While examining the brains of these avians, researchers noted that their brains contain clusters of neurons, which they've dubbed song nuclei. Since other birds don't possess song nuclei, they think that these structures probably play a key role in vocal learning.

Parrots might be better at mimicry than hummingbirds and songbirds thanks to a variation in these neurons: a special shell layer that surrounds each one. Birds with larger shell regions appear to be better at imitating other creatures, although it's still unclear why.

Learn more about parrot speech below (after you're done jamming out to Hatebeak).


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