First Take: Change for a Dollar Print

Change for a Dollar

Apparently, sand dollars have always known what some computer-users take years to learn—the importance of making a backup copy. In the March 14 issue of the journal Science, UW researchers revealed that sand dollar larvae clone themselves in the face of danger, thus doubling their odds of survival. When Dawn Vaughn, a biology grad student, added fish mucus to shot glasses containing juvenile sand dollars, they produced smaller copies of themselves within a few hours. Larvae not exposed to the mucus stayed in one piece. Predictably, writers and editors had a word-play field day with this information. "What did the baby sand dollar say to itself when it smelled a fish that would like to eat it?" asked the New York Times. "‘Let’s split!’" "When the Going Gets Tough, the Wimpy Get Cloning," read a headline in WiredNews. For the record, these are the headlines that failed to make the cut here at Columns: Breaking a Dollar; Sea Change; Divided We Stand; Doubling Their Investment; and a personal favorite, Throwing Money at the Problem.