Weekend reads: Best out-of-office messages, lost turkey tails, and dinosaur-killing asteroids

Kristin Tyndall's read

How the turkey lost its tail: industrial-scale livestock production, according to sociologist Michael Carolan. Living turkeys do have tails, but it's unlikely that you've ever seen a turkey tail grace your Thanksgiving table. According to turkey industry experts, American consumers never developed a taste for the fatty tail, so they're removed before the birds hit the shelves. Today, turkey producers ship the tails to the Pacific Islands—Samoans told Carolan that turkey tails have become a national favorite, a party food you eat with your family and a cold beer. If I ever see a pack of turkey tails, now I know to snatch them up and start planning a barbecue.

Seren Snow's reads

The Museum of the Bible opens this week in Washington, DC near the National Mall. Steve Green, the president of Hobby Lobby, a chain of arts and crafts stories, is of Christian faith. He wants the museum to give spectators a way to learn more about the bible and its impact on the world. Museum leaders say the museum is not seeking to interpret the Bible, nor does it get into issues like evolution and marriage. The opening is not without controversy though. The Green family recently had to pay a fine because of the way they acquired artifacts for the museum, and some scholars have questioned the family's motives. Nonetheless, the 430,000-square-foot, $500-million museum is expected to make a splash in the nation's capital.

A small change in the location of an asteroid would have saved dinosaurs. That's because only a small percentage of the Earth's surface held the elements necessary to cause mass extinction, according to Kunio Kaiho, a paleontologist from Tohoku University in Japan and an author of a study on the matter. The asteroid struck the coast of Mexico. The country's hot temperatures and abundance of sulfur and hydrocarbons allowed the impact to blot out the sun and soon after, causing three-quarters of Earth's species to become extinct.

Kathleen Escarcha's reads

Holiday season is fast approaching; is your out-of-office message ready? The New York Times asked their readers for tips on how to keep an auto-reply simple, short, and honest. Some recommendations are unapologetically straightforward, while others take a more humorous approach. My personal favorite? "Gone Fishing." Even if you don't know how to fish, the message suggests you're living life on your own terms, the reader explains.

What's the difference between "natural flavor" and "artificial flavor"? They're actually not as different as you may think, nutritionists say. "Natural flavor" is derived from a natural source, whereas an "artificial flavor" is made synthetically, experts say. Consumers may perceive natural flavors as healthier, but there isn't a nutritional difference the two. So if you're stuck between the two choices, pick the flavor you like better, not the label, one flavor chemist suggests.

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