How to tell if your turtle is a boy or a girl

I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall for this conversation.

A department secretary at Missouri State University burst into a science lab and demanded answers. This had all the makings of one of those “abuse of tax dollars” stories that destroys reputations and scares off supporters.

Why, exactly, did this scientist need to use school money to buy a sex toy online?

Of course, herpetologist Donald McKnight explained, it was to arouse somebody. Er, just not a human. And, uh, for a very good, scientific reason.

As it turns out, McKnight and his team have discovered that using a simple vibrator is a really easy way to determine the sex of turtles, who typically keep their reproductive parts tucked away and refuse to wear pink or blue onesies to make it clear.

And just like a person, a turtle will become excited by sex toys, and by applying the vibrator to its tail, well… let’s just say it becomes more obvious whether the turtle is a male or female.

OK, let’s move on.

What we’re talking about

Portland economic development officials said they’ve picked a project involving major employer WEX for a waterfront lot. The project would include a 100,000-square-foot building on Thames Street which would include about 10,000 square feet of retail space in addition to WEX’s global headquarters. The payment processing company would move about 450 jobs to the site while reportedly keeping a significant presence in its home city of South Portland.

The state has eliminated funding for 15 local school-based student health centers around Maine, including four in Portland Public Schools.These centers provide services ranging from physicals and dental work to immunizations and help to students trying to quit smoking. Portland schools Superintendent Xavier Botana told the BDN’s Jake Bleiberg about 1,000 students benefit from the services provided by the local centers.

Tall Ships Portland announced the return of the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Eagle to Portland next month, as well as the 200-foot-long Oliver Hazard Perry. The vessels will be open for tours on Aug. 5-6. More details here.

Central Maine Power Co. announced a massive project proposal to plug New England into Quebec’s rich supply of hydropower. The project would involve the construction of 145 miles of new transmission lines, mostly through western and southern Maine, and support nearly 1,700 direct or indirect jobs. Perhaps most importantly, dumping that much hydropower into the grid could drop wholesale energy costs in New England by an average of $40 million a year for 20 years.

A developer has started construction on a new home for adults with intellectual disabilities in South Portland, according to The Forecaster. The property will take advantage of a historic 1900 home already at the 14 E St. Knightville location and include a 4,500-square-foot addition to ultimately become a 10-bedroom facility. It will open in February or March of 2018, The Forecaster reported.

Two southern Maine organizations are involved in the nation’s biggest autism study ever. Nearly 300 people in the region are taking part the study, out of nearly 50,000 participants with autism and their families across the country. Researchers hope the study helps identify which genes in people with autism are linked with which specific characteristics, and how best to treat them.

Tweet of the day

From former Portland Pirates media relations director Karoline Zacharer:

The Big Idea

Spider-man’s most recognizable weapon is becoming more and more realistic all the time. Researchers at the University of Cambridge have created a new material that mimics spider silk’s strength, stretchiness and energy-absorbing capacity, according to Smithsonian magazine. It may be useful in making everything from parachutes to bulletproof vests, showing the exact same kind of versatility Spidey’s web is known for. The best part? The synthetic web is almost entirely water.

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