Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Arizona Hispanics Poised To Swing State Blue

22 minutes ago
Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Copyright 2016 NPR. To see more, visit

Edit note: This report contains accounts of rape, violence and other disturbing events.

Sex trafficking wasn't a major concern in the early 1980s, when Beth Jacobs was a teenager. If you were a prostitute, the thinking went, it was your choice.

Jacobs thought that too, right up until she came to on the lot of a dark truck stop one night. She says she had asked a friendly-seeming man for a ride home that afternoon.

Jacobs says he gave her something in an old McDonald's cup — a drug — and as she was waking up the man announced that he was a pimp. Her pimp.

The Boston Citgo sign, all 3,600 square LED feet of which has served as the backdrop to Red Sox games since 1965, is now officially a "pending landmark."

Spanish Surrealist Salvador Dalí spent much of the 1940s in the U.S., avoiding World War II and its aftermath. He was a well-known fixture on the art scene in Monterey, Calif. — and that's where the largest collection of Dalí's work on the West Coast is now open to the public.

Copyright 2016 Fresh Air. To see more, visit Fresh Air.


The Naming Of The Shrew

Mar 16, 2013

It looks kinda like a squirrel, except its ears are too small, its tail is ratty, then bushy, and its mouth? Definitely un-squirrel. More like a shrew, a fox, or a dog. And the teeth? Strange. What is it?

It's an act of edited, elegant imagination.

Drawn by science illustrator Carl Buell, working with 23 very learned, picky, choosy scientists, it's the American Museum of Natural History Team's best guess of what the Mother Of All Modern Mammals looked like. After a giant asteroid smashed into Earth, wiping out the dinosaurs, "a small, scampering, insect eating animal" poked its head out from wherever it was hiding, and found itself suddenly in a big, empty, inviting, dinosaur-less world.

Hello, World!

Free to roam, eat and grow, it had lots and lots and lots of babies, who eventually speciated into lots of different looking babies, and 66 million years later, one of those babies (great, great, great etc. grandchild of the original) is ... you! You reading this. That little animal in our picture about to eat a beetle is your ancestor: the original mammal that led to all the mammals we see today, from aardvarks to elephants to kangaroos.

The problem is, we have no fossil of this mammalian original. We can make an educated guess about its genome, its inner chemistry. The National Science Foundation has built a cyber-picture book, called Morphobank, a search engine that lets anybody explore what ancient creatures looked like. So scientists pored over 12,000 pictures describing fur, feathers, skulls, tails, and came up (after many phone calls and emails) with this combination of what the genes and fossils say, transformed by Carl Buell into this image of our great great "Grandma."

Problem is, she has no name.

Evolutionary biologists are very strict about this. Without a fossil you can't have a scientific, official, Linnean name. So we journalists and you readers and scientists too — can call it anything we like.

Which is why the Museum of Natural History has teamed with Radiolab (the NPR show I share with Jad Abumrad) to co-sponsor a naming contest. On the Radiolab website, we asked people to suggest names for the Original Mammalian Ancestor pictured in Carl's painting, and of the 1,000 or so that came in, we narrowed the field to 32.

There are some plain, nice ones like Alphie, Basil and Charlie, some acronyms like MEG (Mammalian Evolutionary Grandparent), some cool ones like Grandmammal, Punky Shrewster, and Vole de Mort. And, not that I want to influence anyone, because I shouldn't, but how about "Furst"? After all, that's what it was, and the "u" makes it sly — but, hey, I'm not the chooser.

You should choose.

We're doing one of those March Madness bracket competitions, and right now we're in Round 2.

Here's where things stand:

If you want to vote, look over the surviving list of names and vote for the one you like the best.

We will go five rounds, and the winner will be announced April 4. You are free to vote right here and may the best name (even if it isn't "Furst" which would be so wrong, given how right it feels ... I mean just look at that animal and try to call it anything else) win.

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