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Great white sharks are the epitome of an apex predator. In the ocean, these toothy creatures easily hold one of the top spots on the food chain (though the odds of one killing a human are 1 in 3,700,000). But recent drone and helicopter footage of an aquatic attack reveals that another marine mammal seems to have an upper hand. 

For the first time, biologists filmed direct evidence of killer whales attacking and killing white sharks in South Africa. The first video was captured by drone in May 2023 in the Mossel Bay region, revealing three orcas cornering and fatally biting a three meter-length white shark. The shark’s body was not seen or recovered after the bloody battle. This video, along with extended helicopter footage of this attack and shark tag data, were published this week in the journal Ecology. 

The first video recorded by a drone pilot was initially released in June, but the team later received cell phone footage recorded from a helicopter pilot that had been filmed on the same day. They were able to identify that the killer whales in the helicopter video were the same ones in the drone pilot video—spotting a particularly well-known shark hunter, named Starboard. The evidence suggests that the pod had gone on an hour-long hunting spree, killing potentially four white sharks in total. The researchers decided to adjust and resubmit the paper with the new information. This provides new insight into the rarely-seen evasive behavior of great whites—a species that had once dominated South African waters but is now experiencing a rapid decline. 

“I still remember viewing the footage for the first time and feeling a whole mixed bag of emotions,” Alison Towner, lead study author and senior shark scientist at Marine Dynamic Academy in Gansbaai, South Africa, told PopSci in an email. “We had been analyzing evidence on these interactions since 2023 and had often been challenged on whether this really was occurring in South Africa. I guess the footage put those questions to bed as it is irrefutable evidence that orcas are hunting white sharks here.”

[Related: Even blue whales aren’t safe from orcas]

Orcas are like “wolves of the ocean,” says Towner—they commonly capture prey in organized pods. In two of the recorded attacks, the team was able to witness the killer whales slowly and closely approach sharks. Instead of fleeing, the great white will swim in tight circles around the orca while keeping it within sight—sharks being highly visual creatures. This is a common strategy that seals and turtles also use to successfully evade sharks, explains Towner. But since killer whales hunt in groups, the tactic might not be as effective. 

“I was in awe of how the orcas strategize and hunt but one cannot help but feel for the sharks, too,” Towner says. “It’s quite haunting seeing white sharks being circled and killed by larger predators.” 

Particularly, the orcas seem to have a taste for liver. The video shows them chomping on the sharks’ abdomen and tearing out their liver, which could be seen floating to the surface where the killer whale gobbles it up. White sharks’ livers are oily and nutrient-rich, making an ideal meal, Towner explains. The footage gives an explanation for previous shark carcasses washed ashore that were missing livers, the team wrote in the study. 

This might actually be a relatively common phenomenon. Killer whales are the only known marine predator of great white sharks. In South Africa, Starboard, and partner-in-crime Port, have been reported preying on other shark species and have been linked to white shark deaths since around 2023, but this is the first time the showdown was seen in action. Before killer whales started hunting in Mossel Bay, white sharks were frequently seen—sometimes recorded every day by research surveys. The study authors collected drone and dive boat data before and after the predation events, and found that white sharks fled the area immediately after the attacks. Only a single white shark was seen in 45 days after the predations were reported. 

[Related: Great whites don’t hunt humans—they just have blind spots]

“Killer whales are highly intelligent and social animals,” marine mammal specialist and study co-author Simon Elwen said in a press release. They are known to learn and pick up behaviors or skills from each other in their unique cultural system. 

“While these interactions may be fascinating it is important to understand that white sharks face a whole host of threats in South Africa and now orcas are an additional threat to their already fragile populations,” Towner says. “This information will need to be considered in future studies and in management moving forward here in South Africa.”

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When Your Car Can Communicate, Who Talks Back?

Until very recently, a car was a closed system. The only contact it had with the outside world was where the rubber met the road. Now GM has announced that its OnStar service will be expanding to provide a constant connection to the internet, and by 2023 some of its vehicles will be able to communicate with each other to “platoon” on highways. There are also real-time, in-the-cloud navigation systems and streaming audio services available in your car through your phone or your entertainment system.

But when a closed system becomes an open system, you introduce vulnerabilities. Viruses, denial of service attacks, and hacking all become possibilities when your car becomes part of the internet of things.

The worst-case scenario, according to cyber security expert Mark Spreitzer of CGI, a security firm that work with US defense and intelligence agencies, involves a malicious hacker connecting to the vehicle’s diagnostics system and issuing commands that disable brakes, report false information to the dashboard, or disrupt fuel delivery. And that’s just inside one vehicle. If that hacker can get into the infrastructure, he could spoof traffic data and mine patterns to create chaos in an urban area.

The more likely security scenario, according to Spreitzer, is a virus that looks for a signal, such as locking the doors, then responds by transmitting the car’s location and disabling security systems and opening the windows.

Part of security is also privacy, which is where we humans play a part. When was the last time you read an end user license agreement, or an app’s terms of service? Unless someone points out to us some heinous new change in the data mining that’s allowed by an app, we happily check the box and fire it up. It’s a tradeoff millions of us are willing to make every day: our data in exchange for convenience and cool new stuff.

Now the car, the second-most-expensive thing most people buy (after their house), is becoming the ultimate mobile device. “Security is not something a manufacturer can charge more for,” Lintzen said. “The customer assumes it is there.” So we’ll pay more for the in-car hotspot and the vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) or vehicle-to-infrastructure (V2I) tech that makes driving safer and traffic smoother, but we’re not willing to pay outright for the security to protect all that data.

Auto manufacturers are baking that security into their cars anyway; after all, they have brands and reputations to protect. No one wants to make the car that gets hacked. It’s all about being able to trust the source of the data, whether that’s the car itself or the traffic light it’s talking to, or the traffic information it’s pulling from the cloud.

“Manufacturers install certificates when building the vehicle, thus providing reliability and integration before the vehicle reaches the customer,” Spreitzer said. CGI is working with several manufacturers, including Volvo’s ECO System, to provide that security. “CGI’s international standards-based Certificate Service includes a state of the art Digital Certificate Authority. Each certificate will be installed when the car is manufactured, ensuring reliability and integration with Volvo’s manufacturing systems, market service and cloud environment. Certificate keys prevent hackers from intercepting communications and impersonating the sender, also known as man in the middle.”

“We have best practices that we’ve learned over the past two or three decades,” Lintzen said. When the car is an endpoint in a highly connected system, everything has to be provided with an identity and authentication — cars, traffic lights, financial institutions — everything. The car has to be able to trust the data it is receiving, and the internet has to be able to trust the information the car is sending.

While the vulnerability risk is mostly on the vehicle right now, that will shift to the infrastructure as new technologies are deployed. Lintzen expects that technology to be online in a meaningful way within five years. Security experts need to be working as a partner with manufacturers and governments to make sure the architecture is secure and able to be updated.

“If we all come to the table understanding the mission of transportation and how the expectations of the consumer are changing,” Spreitzer said, “everybody is going to be successful.”

Anatomy Of A Serial Killer

Like a cowboy loosely holding the reins, Larry Weatherman steers up Deer Creek Road with his left hand on the wheel, his right arm ready at his side. His upper body rocks with the motion of the pickup as he navigates the dirt road’s gauntlet of potholes and rocks. Since his retirement from the Missoula County Sheriff’s Department in 2000, Weatherman has adopted the bushy white mustache and Stetson of a gentleman rancher. But on a snowy Saturday in March, he has driven his two passengers the 50 miles down from his 20 acres above Montana’s Seeley Lake to revisit the forlorn woods that served, three decades ago, as the dumping grounds for Montana’s most notorious serial killer.

A gust of snow hits the windshield. Through the swirl, Weatherman spots a narrow break in the pine and fir trees lining the road. He pulls into a shallow ditch and opens his door. “He liked to take his girlfriends up here to party,” he says.

Weatherman was a young officer in 1974 when he investigated the first in a series of gruesome murders that ended a way of life in Missoula, a place where people had left their doors unlocked and women felt comfortable walking home alone from the local bar. The first victim was a preacher’s wife found gagged, bound, and shot in the basement of her home, her husband’s handgun jammed between her legs. In addition to questioning the husband, Weatherman briefly suspected a high-school boy who neighbors had spotted in the victim’s backyard that day. A grand jury found insufficient evidence to charge either suspect.

Over the next 12 years, the seemingly random murders continued. Three teenage girls and a married couple were killed, and the town suffered a spate of home intrusions thought to have been thwarted rapes. Then the improbable happened. In 1986 the husband of a would-be victim, already trussed and stabbed, managed to break free and kill 30-year-old Wayne Nance in a bloody struggle. Nance, a baby-faced furniture deliveryman and part-time bouncer, was the high-schooler Weatherman had suspected in 1974. Postmortem searches of Nance’s bedroom and his father’s house uncovered evidence of at least three additional murders and of other break-ins.

But hope for further information about the murders died with Nance. Weatherman was left with the unidentified remains of two young victims. One of them was “Debbie Deer Creek,” a teenager whose skeleton he had chiseled out of a frozen grave alongside Deer Creek Road some 21 months before Nance’s death. Several strands of dyed hair enabled Weatherman to connect her to a photo of a dark-haired drifter that bar patrons knew as “Robin” before she disappeared a few weeks after moving in with Nance. Weatherman sent out scores of bulletins to the FBI and regional law-enforcement agencies. But the girl’s picture and street name failed to locate family.

It would take more than hair strands and a faded picture to identify Debbie Deer Creek. It would take technology—still two decades away—that could extract minute amounts of fractured DNA to reveal an indelible link to a victim’s family. It would take one brother’s unceasing search to find out what happened to his runaway sister. And perhaps most of all, it would take the U.S. Department of Justice’s slow but horrifying realization that there may be far more serial killers on the loose in America than anyone had ever expected.

For two decades, a facial reconstruction made from Debbie Deer Creek’s skull sat on top of Weatherman’s bookcase facing that of another girl, “Christy Crystal Creek,” discovered by a hunter two miles farther up the same mountain road above Nance’s home. Weatherman is still troubled when he thinks of the nameless girls. “I know somebody once cared for them,” he says.

Marci Bachmann

At age two.

The Silent Missing

Debbie and Christy are far from alone, and the same may be said for the likes of Wayne Nance. In a recent issue of the scientific journal Homicide Studies, criminologist Kenna Quinet wrote that conventional calculations seriously underestimate the number of serial murder victims. “The problem may be 10 times worse than we imagined,” she says. Instead of 180 victims a year in the U.S., there may be as many as 1,800.

Quinet, a nationally renowned homicide expert at Indiana-Purdue University Indianapolis, bases her conclusions on simple arithmetic. According to the Department of Justice, up to 40,000 sets of unidentified human remains sit in police-evidence lockers and medical examiners’ offices across the nation. If resolved cases are any guide, the majority are murder victims. Against this, Quinet factors the homicides suspected in a significant proportion—as much as 20 percent—of missing-person cases, more than 100,000 of which remain open at any time in this country.

Quinet bolsters her new estimates with evidence of the lengthy careers of the serial killers who are eventually caught and convicted. “Typically, these killers operate under the radar for years, even decades,” she explains. Studies show that male serial killers average six to 11 victims over a nine-year period. Female serial killers (primarily health-care workers) average seven to nine victims over the same window. And that’s just those who get caught. “I would guess that at any given moment,” she says, “there are at least two people in each state committing serial murder”—more than 100 serial killers on the loose. Washington State is currently tracking at least four: the so-called 22-Caliber Killer, the Index Killer, the Lewiston Valley Killer and the Snohomish County Dismemberment Killer.

Meanwhile, other serial killers are operating too randomly or infrequently to generate a pattern or are cunning enough to prey on those unlikely to be missed. Quinet calls these possible victims America’s “missing missing,” the tens of thousands whose disappearance is not taken seriously by law-enforcement agencies. They include those that law enforcement assumes to be “missing” by choice: runaways, transients, prostitutes, and anyone who has an outstanding bench warrant (the irony, Quinet notes, is that the warrant can be for the missing person’s failure to appear in court).

John Morgan, deputy director for science and technology at the National Institute of Justice, the research arm of the Department of Justice, believes that part of the problem is the increasingly transient nature of American life. “We live in a more fragmented society,” he says. “A lot of homicides that occur involve strangers.” And for a greater number of the victims, living far from their hometowns and disconnected from a social network, their absence won’t be noticed, or they will be dismissed as having simply moved on. As a result, Morgan says, it’s now less likely “that a particular homicide will be resolved and the killer brought to justice.”

The first step in solving these crimes—even before a detective can start to connect the clues—is connecting the bodies to the missing. “After all,” Quinet says, “it’s hard to conduct a murder investigation when you don’t know who the victim is.”

One in a Million

Derek Bachmann was 14 in 1984 when he helped his 15-year-old sister, Marci, pack her bags and run away from their Vancouver, Washington, home. “She told me my stepfather was touching her, making her touch him,” he recalls. “I told her, ‘You’re right, you need to get the hell out of here.’ ” That was the last time he saw her. “The fact that I helped her pack has always haunted me,” says Bachmann, now a Web marketer living outside St. Louis. “I mean, there were five different serial killers in the Northwest at the time.” (In fact, there were at least eight.)

Investigation

Dixie Hybki and Dr. Rhonda Roby at the University of North Texas Health Science Center.

By 2000, Web sites such as the Doe Network offered Bachmann a new resource. Maintained by amateur detectives and families of the missing, these cyber-bulletin boards feature case histories and, when possible, photos or artist re-creations of the unnamed dead, typically gleaned from news and police reports. Bach-mann began spending all-nighters at his computer. His obsession put a strain on a short-lived marriage, he admits with a slow shake of his head. “The atrocities I’ve seen looking for my sister.”

Among them was a flower-adorned memorial page dedicated to a girl named Robin, with a photo of a dark-haired girl in glasses under the banner “Do you recognize this face?” Bachmann looked again. There was something familiar about the mouth and nose. “I showed it to my relatives,” he recalls. “They said, ‘No way. Marci never wore glasses.’ ” Besides, the hair color was wrong. Still, a few months later, he dialed the number provided for the Missoula County Sheriff’s Department and left a message for Captain Greg Hintz. No return call.

The Brother

Derek Bachmann, who once helped his sister run away from home, later helped identify her remains.

When Marci left home in 1984, Seattle’s Green River Killer was at the height of a spree that would eventually claim the lives of as many as 49 women, mainly prostitutes and teenage runaways. Bachmann wrote to King County detective Tom Jensen, head of the Green River Task Force, who promised to compare Marci’s dental records with the impressions taken from the four unidentified victims in his custody. But no dental records were available, and Jensen added Marci’s file to those jamming his filing cabinets.

In 2001, King County sheriff’s deputies arrested 53-year-old truck painter Gary Ridgway for the Green River killings; two years later, he was sentenced to 48 consecutive life terms. The work of the Green River Task Force was finished. But Jensen still had more than 100 missing persons and suspected homicides in his files.

Jensen’s captain assigned three detectives from the disbanded task force to review the cases and make a final effort to close them. And so, in the summer of 2005, detective Raphael Crenshaw called Derek Bachmann in Missouri: Was Marci still missing? Crenshaw told him about a new program that attempted to match family DNA against unidentified remains. Bachmann was eager to supply his, but Crenshaw also needed samples from his parents.

“I knew my dad would take a lot of convincing,” Bachmann says. But he did convince his mother, who still lived in Washington. The next week, she rubbed a cotton swab against the inside of her cheek, sealed it in a plastic baggie, and sent it to the sheriff, who shipped it on to Texas.

Connecting DNA’s Dots

When Nance and Ridgway were going about their grisly business, no method was available to connect the missing, like Marci Bachmann, to the dead. But there’s now a lab, in Fort Worth, Texas, that can close the gap.

It’s another March morning, and a steady rain has Fort Worth’s Trinity River running high through the city’s cultural district. On the other side of Camp Bowie Boulevard, employees and students are leaping over the ponds growing in the driveway of the University of North Texas Health Science Center. The third floor of this beige stucco high-rise is home to the university’s Center for Human Identification, the only academic DNA lab in the country dedicated to identifying human remains.

In 1989, molecular biologist Arthur Eisenberg began using DNA to settle questions of identity in cases ranging from paternity to homicide. For the next decade, Eisenberg developed many of the procedures and standards used in DNA testing today. Around 2000, he began to focus on missing persons, and in 2001, he and his staff built a state DNA database. Since then, the center’s capacity has grown to handle cases from across the country.

Mapping

A topographical map of the scene.

Still, it’s the difficult cases—the shots in the dark—that tantalize, says the center’s project manager, Rhonda Roby. She speaks from experience, having spent her career developing methods for extracting DNA from severely degraded remains. In 1991 Roby began working in the Office of the Armed Forces Medical Examiner, where she helped develop methods for identifying the skeletal remains of American soldiers from Vietnam, Korea and World War II. In 2001 she flew to New York City to help set up protocols for the unimaginable task of identifying more than 20,000 pieces of human tissue retrieved from the ruins of the World Trade Center. She has also helped identify victims of Chile’s Pinochet regime and, in a curious aside, the remains of Nicholas II and the Romanov family of tsarist Russia.

In 2004, shortly before Roby’s arrival, the center achieved its first successful DNA extraction in an extremely cold case. The remains—a slender, yellowing femur—had arrived by FedEx. Forensic analyst Lisa Sansom cataloged the bone in the center’s database as F2775.1EC and carried it into the lab’s bone room, behind a door flagged “Forensic Low-Copy Area. AUTHORIZED PERSONNEL ONLY.” The amount of genetic material retrieved from old bone tends to be so small as to be easily overwhelmed by the ambient DNA of a floating skin flake or a saliva droplet. Inside the Low-Copy Room, analysts don full gowns, face masks and surgical gloves. A positive-pressure system keeps “dirty” outside air from flowing in, and analysts have their genetic profile entered into the center’s DNA database so that those will be excluded from target sequences.

The work differs from the kind of DNA fingerprinting used to identify biological evidence left at a crime. It is extremely difficult—sometimes impossible—to extract conventional nuclear DNA markers from an old bone. The center has become skilled in extracting and analyzing a hardier but less-known source of DNA: that of the mitochondria that reside in our cells.Except for identical twins, each person’s nuclear DNA is unique. But each of us has another set of DNA located outside the cell’s nucleus and inside the mitochondria, the tiny organs that supply a cell with energy. We inherit mitochondrial DNA, known as mtDNA, directly from our mothers, and we share it with our siblings. It’s not unique, but mtDNA is enough to narrow the search for a victim’s family.Sansom spent almost an hour scrubbing and sanding the femur’s surface before attempting extraction. Few of the bones here contain marrow, which dissolves in the first two or three years after death. F2775.1EC had spent some 20 years in a box inside a police warehouse, so DNA would have to come from the scant cellular material inside the bone’s white scaffolding. She used a woodworker’s dremel to cut a rectangular window in the thickened area of bone just below the femur’s rounded head, where the thigh muscles once attached. Next she chilled, pulverized, and blended the sample inside a freezer mill loaded with sterilized ball bearings. Using an automated chemical process, she broke open the bone cells, released their genetic contents, and washed, concentrated, and purified the extract.

Dark History

Derek and Marci Bachmann in 1971. Right: the photo in which Derek identified his lost sister

For genetic analysis, Sansom first had to increase the DNA to detectable amounts using a process called DNA amplification. Forensic software translated the results into a four-color graph of peaks and troughs. Drawing on her training and experience, she translated each graphic peak into one of the four nucleotide letters in the DNA alphabet. It took her about a week to process sample chúng tôi the amplification signals aren’t clear, the chances for a reliable match plummet. In the worst case, the sequence data prove ambiguous, and workers must repeat the extraction and analysis. Sansom got her sequence on the first try. She uploaded it to the center’s DNA database. No hits. Then she uploaded the data to the FBI’s national missing-persons database. Again, no hits. Not yet.

Scaling the Backlog

In 2004 the center received a major investment to help realize Arthur Eisenberg’s goal of establishing a National Center for the Identification of Human Remains. It was the first of several National Institute of Justice grants given over a five-year period totaling more than $7 million. The center’s mission was to perform DNA testing on unidentified skeletal remains and “family reference” samples free of charge for any local or state law-enforcement agency that requested it. It’s now a clearinghouse at the heart of an effort to address the thousands of missing persons and unidentified remains discovered each year—what the justice department calls “America’s silent mass disaster.”

The tests scan some 40 lengths of highly fragmented DNA for single-nucleotide polymorphisms (or SNPs, pronounced “snips”), one-letter variations in the genetic code. The SNPs are then combined to create unique DNA fingerprints. If the center’s tests are successful—and Eisenberg says they’re making rapid progress—SNPs will allow forensic analysts to identify old bones more reliably than they can using mtDNA. “If SNPs pans out, it will be another revolution in how we deal with homicide,” the National Institute of Justice’s Morgan says. “There will no longer be a reason to have unidentified remains.”

Analyze

To analyze a femur, scientists cut into the bone’s interior.

But extracting and reading DNA from unidentified remains is only half the challenge. That DNA must get linked to the right missing person. What the country has sorely lacked, Morgan says, is a central repository for information such as photos, fingerprints, dental records, DNA sequences and other identifying information on both missing persons and unidentified victims. Make that database searchable, and it becomes a profitable tool for homicide detectives. Open it to the public, and it becomes a merciful resource for the thousands who currently spend their nights combing disturbing Web sites.

In 2005 the U.S. Attorney General’s office formed a Missing Persons Task Force to develop the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System, or NamUs (identifyus.org). In 2007 the first part of the system—a searchable database of unidentified human remains—went live. Last year, the program opened up a national database of missing-person reports. And later this year, NamUs plans to connect the two, with a cross-searchable database that automatically matches the missing and the dead.

The Match

Before the NamUs database is complete, though, researchers at Fort Worth’s Center for Human Identification have to rely on meticulous information-gathering and luck. The center has put together a DNA-collection kit for family members of the missing, which it sends out free of charge to the nation’s police and sheriff’s departments. Law-enforcement officers mail cheek swabs collected from the family back to the center, where workers analyze them in batches of up to 80 to yield both nuclear- and mitochondrial-DNA profiles of parents and siblings.

As each family member’s DNA fingerprint comes off the line, it too goes through the databases to search for approximate matches among the dead. The process is spellbinding, claims forensic analyst Melody Josserand. Any of thousands of mysteries could be solved at that moment. “Even though I do searches 30 or 40 times a week, I’ve never walked away,” she says. “I sit here with bated breath.”

Josserand remembers the day in March 2006 when Unidentified Person F2775.1EC flashed across her screen. She had just uploaded family-reference sample F3352.1US, submitted by the King County Sheriff’s office. Like the reels of a slot machine, twin columns of numbers rolled down her monitor. The rows for six out of six mitochondrial-DNA base pairs flashed green. A perfect match. But mtDNA alone, she knew, wasn’t definitive. Fortunately, back in 2004, Sansom was able to pull seven markers for nuclear DNA from the victim’s bone sample. Josserand compared the family-reference sample with that. All of them matched.

Josserand retrieved the folder for Unidentified Person F2775.1EC and checked it against the file for the family-reference sample. “The metadata all matched,” she says of Debbie Deer Creek’s physical descriptors: female; approximate age, 17; weight, 125; height, 5’7″. Estimated date and place of death: 8/19/1984, Missoula, Montana.

Haunted

Retired Missoula sheriff Larry Weatherman, who investigated Nance’s murders.

From the missing-person report, Josserand read the name: Marcella Bachmann. Last contact: 5/1984, Vancouver, Washington. “All I could think was, ‘I wonder how this poor girl got from here to there?’ ” she says. Still, certainty depended on more family samples, ideally from the biological father. So the call went out to Derek Bachmann through Detective Crenshaw in King County. Crenshaw didn’t say anything about the bone from Missoula. “I gave him the spiel I give everyone, so as not to get hopes up,” he says. ” ‘The lab wants more DNA samples to make sure that if there’s a hit, they can narrow it down.’ “

“I called up my dad,” Bachmann says, “and flat-out told him, ‘You have to do this. I have to know.’ “

On March 22, 2006, the Center for Human Identification received two FedEx envelopes, one containing a cheek swab from Bachmann, the other from his father. The father’s nuclear DNA matched all of Debbie Deer Creek’s nuclear-DNA markers. To underscore the identification, Derek’s mtDNA, like that of his mother, proved identical.

Following protocol, the Center for Human Identification relayed the news to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children, which in turn called Missoula and Captain Hintz, who had submitted Debbie Deer Creek’s femur after Larry Weatherman’s retirement.

“I’ll never forget his call,” Bachmann says. “I was in a poker tournament and had to step outside.” As Hintz spoke, Bachmann suddenly realized that he didn’t want “closure” after all. “I instantly grasped the idea that he was finally calling back about the Web-site photo. I told him I’d been thinking about it, that the picture couldn’t have been my sister,” he recalls. “Well, he disabused me of that.”

The Final Identification

Almost exactly two years later, on this snowy March day in Missoula, Weatherman waits for Derek Bachmann to step out of the county truck they have borrowed for their second visit to the place where Weatherman unearthed Marci’s frozen remains on Christmas Eve 1984.

Bachmann shivers inside his leather jacket. The snow quickly saturates his sneakers as he follows the retired lawman a quarter of a mile through the woods to a bluff above the Clark Fork River. A grove of spindly conifers still surrounds the mossy depression that once held Marci’s body. “It was a lot harder the first time,” Bachmann says of the visit. “Yeah,” Weatherman acknowledges. “That was a hard one for you.”

From beyond the bluff comes the rumbling sound of construction—or rather, deconstruction—echoing up from the Milltown Dam below. A strip of orange and yellow surveyor flags marks a path past Marci’s gravesite to what will be a viewing platform directly above a river-restoration project. In addition to tearing out the old dam, the county plans to build a small park. Construction is due to begin in the spring. Bachmann has come back, in part, to ensure that nothing desecrates Marci’s spot. Perhaps he can even persuade the county to raise a small memorial, he proposes. Weatherman nods in agreement.

“I suppose you’re ready to put all this behind you,” Bachmann offers as the men head back to the truck. “I don’t suppose it ever will be,” Weatherman says, “until we get Christy identified.” At press time, DNA from Christy’s femur had been entered into the Center for Human Identification’s database of cold-case remains, as well as the national DNA database. She’s ready to be found.

Jessica Snyder Sachs is the author of Good Germs, Bad Germs_, now out in paperback._

The Best Youtube Originals: What To Watch With Your Premium Account In 2023

Netflix

YouTube Premium is a pretty massive service, bundling video and music streaming, ad-free. It can be hard to keep track of everything included in your subscription though, like the slew of original shows and movies produced by the Google-own platform. That’s why we’re here to offer you a list of the best YouTube originals that you can watch, entirely free to subscribers.

Best YouTube originals

Original release: 2023

Episode runtime: 25 minutes

Genre: Music docuseries

Director/Creator: Park Jun-soo

Follow the world-famous South Korean boy band BTS (the Bangtan Boys) on their 300-day, sold-out 2023 “The Wings” world tour. This documentary miniseries follows the band backstage, offering a behind-the-scenes look at their relationships and the inner workings of a supergroup alongside killer footage of their live shows.

Retro Tech

YouTube

Original release: 2023-2024

Episode runtime: 25 minutes

Genre: Tech docuseries

Director/Creator: Marques “MKBHD” Brownlee

Produced by Vox Media Studios and starring MKBHD, Retro Tech follows the popular vlogger as he unearths technologies from the past, starting with the original 1989 Game Boy. MKBHD (or Marques Brownlee) is joined by celebrity guests like Bill Nye and Elon Musk to discuss the social impacts of these technologies and how they inform the tools we use today.

Sideswiped

YouTube

Original release: 2023

Episode runtime: 25 minutes

Genre: Comedy

Director/Creator: Carly Craig, Daniel Reisinger

Main cast: Carly Craig, Rosanna Arquette, Chelsea Frei

A woman tired of being alone on her 35th birthday vows to date every single man she matches with on Tinder — all 252 of them. She’s joined by her restless married sister and their newly single mom who support the experiment and all the absurdity that comes out of it in this clever comedy, one of the best YouTube originals to check out.

See also: The best comedies on Netflix

Best Shot

YouTube

Original release: 2023

Episode runtime: 25-50 minutes

Genre: Sports docuseries

Director/Creator: Michael John Warren

This inspiring miniseries, from executive producer LeBron James, follows Newark Central High School’s basketball team as they are mentored by ESPN analyst and former NBA star Jay Williams. It tracks the inner-city students through the highs and lows of their budding basketball careers.

Check out: The best documentaries on YouTube

Mind Field

YouTube

Original release: 2024 – 2023

Episode runtime: 25 minutes

Genre: Science docuseries

Director/Creator: Michael Stevens

Popular YouTube Michael Stevens takes viewers along on his investigations into consciousness and the human mind. Stevens and his guests participate in on-camera experiments to illustrate what makes us tick, such as when the host spent three days in isolation in the first episode, exploring the effects of sensory deprivation first-hand.

Cobra Kai

YouTube

Original release: 2024 – 2023 (picked up by Netflix starting in 2023)

Episode runtime: 27 minutes

Genre: Martial arts comedy/drama

Director/Creator: Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg

Main cast: Ralph Macchio, William Zabka, Courtney Henggeler, Xolo Maridueña, Tanner Buchanan, Mary Mouser

A sequel to the original Karate Kid films, Cobra Kai checks in on Johnny 34 years later as he reopens the Cobra Kai karate dojo and rekindles his rivalry with Daniel. Cobra Kai was cancelled at YouTube after its second season before moving to Netflix, but you can still watch the first two seasons there. It’s one of the best YouTube originals, and one of the most popular too.

See also: What to watch on Netflix

Weird City

YouTube

Original release: 2023

Episode runtime: 28 minutes

Genre: Science-fiction, anthology

Director/Creator: Charlie Sanders, Jordan Peele

Main cast: Dylan O’Brien, LeVar Burton, Rosario Dawson, Michael Cera, Mark Hamill, Laverne Cox

Rhett & Link’s Buddy System

YouTube

Original release: 2024 – 2023

Episode runtime: 23 minutes

Genre: Comedy

Director/Creator: Rhett McLaughlin, Link Neal

Main cast: Rhett McLaughlin, Link Neal, Page Kennedy, Leslie Bibb

Comedy duo Rhett McLaughlin and Link Neal created and star in this comedy series about two friends trying to regain control of their morning show channel from a mysterious infomercial star using it to hawk bizarre products after stealing access from one of their phones.

Impulse

YouTube

Original release: 2023 – 2023

Episode runtime: 47 minutes

Genre: Science-fiction, drama

Director/Creator: Jeffrey Lieber

Main cast: Maddie Hasson, Craig Arnold, Missi Pyle, Enuka Okuma

Impulse is a loose sequel to the 2008 film Jumper, based on the book by Steven Gould. It follows a 16-year-old girl who discovers she has the ability to teleport, without controlling her end-destination. The power first manifests as a trauma response when a classmate assaults her, and she has to learn how to use her newfound ability.

Step Up: High Water

YouTube

Original release: 2024 – 2023 (picked up by Starz in 2023)

Episode runtime: 52 minutes

Genre: Drama

Director/Creator: Holly Sorensen

Main cast: Lauryn McClain, Petrice Jones, Marcus Mitchell, Naya Rivera, Ne-Yo

High Water is one of the most competitive performing arts schools in Atlanta. Step Up: High Water follows the students and faculty as they work towards their dance dreams. Featuring the late Naya Rivera in one of her last roles, along with other great performances, Step Up: High Water is among the best YouTube originals.

Top Management

YouTube

Original release: 2023

Episode runtime: 30 minutes

Genre: Drama

Director/Creator: Yoon Sung-ho

Main cast: Seo Eun-soo, Ahn Hyo-seop, Cha Eun-woo

This South Korean drama, based on the novel by Jang Woo-san, follows Eun-sung, a former teen idol who can see the future, as she becomes the manager of the aspiring boy idol group S.O.U.L.

The Age Of A.I.

YouTube

Original release: 2024

Episode runtime: 30-45 minutes

Genre: Docuseries

Iron-Man himself, Robert Downey Jr., hosts and narrates this eight-part docuseries that explores the different uses of artificial intelligence, including health, robotics, space travel, food, disaster prevention, and more.

Sherwood

YouTube

Original release: 2024

Episode runtime: 22 minutes

Genre: Science fiction, animation

Director/Creator: Diana Manson, Megan Laughton

Main cast: Anya Chalotra, Tyler Posey, Aneurin Barnard, Jamie Chung, Joseph Fiennes

The year is 2270. Environmental collapse has decimated Earth, and humanity is fractured between haves and have-nots. 14-year-old hacker Robin Loxley and her friends take on the corrupt Sheriff of Nottingham in an unrecognizable Britain. This animated series, inspired by the legend of Robin Hood, is one of the best YouTube originals to check out with your subscription.

IDOLiSH7: Vibrato

YouTube

Original release: 2024 – 2023

Episode runtime: 13 minutes

Genre: Anime

Creator: Ayumi Sekine, Makoto Bessho

A spinoff of the IDOLiSH7 series, IDOLiSH7: Vibrato follows the characters of the massive franchise, members of the eponymous pop idol group and their manager, Tsumugi Takanashi, as well as their rival group Trigger.

Noted: Alicia Keys the Untold Stories

YouTube

Original release: 2024

Episode runtime: 18 minutes

Genre: Music documentary

Director/Creator: TT The Artist

This four-episode docuseries takes viewers behind the music to explore the life and career of Alicia Keys, through live performances, behind-the-scenes footage, and intimate conversations. The series also previews the songs “Skydive,” “Is It Insane,” “Best of Me,” and “Lala” from her eighth studio album, 2023’s Keys.

Youth and Consequences

YouTube

Original release: 2024

Episode runtime: 30 minutes

Genre: Comedy, drama

Director/Creator: Jason Ubaldi

Main cast: Anna Akana, Sean Grandillo, Katie Sarife, Sophie Reynolds

Popular YouTuber Anna Akana stars as Farrah Cutney, queen bee at Central Rochester High. Farrah is struggling to maintain her status as A-list trendsetter amid rising competition from her peers.

Wayne

YouTube

Original release: 2024

Episode runtime: 35 minutes

Genre: Crime comedy

Director/Creator: Shawn Simmons

Main cast: Mark McKenna, Ciara Bravo, Joshua J. Williams

Follow a host of colorful characters in this crime comedy about a teen who teams up with his crush to get back the 1979 Pontiac Trans Am that was stolen from his father before he died.

Dallas & Robo

YouTube

Original release: 2024

Episode runtime: 22 minutes

Genre: Comedy, animated

Director/Creator: Mike Roberts

Main cast: John Cena, Kat Dennings, Stephen Root, Tim Blake Nelson, Milana Vayntrub, Dana Snyder

YouTube’s adult animation series is one of the service’s best originals. Featuring the voices of Kat Dennings and John Cena as the titular interplanetary big-riggers Dallas and Robo, the series follows sassy space-trucker Dallas and “warrior-poet” robot Robo as they fight their way through rival truckers, cannibal bikers, and plenty more in this outrageous series.

Ryan Hansen Solves Crimes on Television

YouTube

Original release: 2024 – 2023

Episode runtime: 25 minutes

Genre: Action comedy

Director/Creator: Rawson Marshall Thurber

Main cast: Ryan Hansen, Samira Wiley, Noelle E. Parker, Jon Cryer, Wood Harris

Veronica Mars and Party Down actor Ryan Hansen stars as a fictional version of himself in this police-procedural action comedy. An LAPD task force enlists actors to use their skills to solve real crimes. Check out this clever show, one of the best YouTube originals.

Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil

YouTube

Original release: 2024

Episode runtime: 22 minutes

Genre: Music documentary

Director/Creator: Michael D. Ratner

This documentary miniseries is a companion piece to musician Demi Lovato’s seventh studio album Dancing with the Devil… the Art of Starting Over. It chronicles Lovato’s personal and professional struggles, including a highly publicized 2023 overdose. An intimate glimpse into the popstar’s life and career, Demi Lovato: Dancing with the Devil is easily one of the best YouTube originals.

Liza on Demand

YouTube

Original release: 2024 – 2023

Episode runtime: 23 minutes

Genre: Comedy

Director/Creator: Deborah Kaplan, Harry Elfont, Liza Koshy

Main cast: Liza Koshy, Kimiko Glenn, Travis Coles

YouTube celeb Liza Koshy stars in this YouTube original in which she’s a “tasker,” completing odd jobs via an app in her ongoing quest to achieve elite status among her peers.

Champaign ILL

YouTube

Original release: 2023

Episode runtime: 27 minutes

Genre: Comedy

Director/Creator: Jordan Cahan, David Caspe, Daniel Libman, Matthew Libman

Main cast: Adam Pally, Sam Richardson

Could You Survive the Movies?

YouTube

Original release: 2024 – the present

Episode runtime: 15 minutes

Genre: Unscripted, entertainment

Director/Creator: Jake Roper

Join Jake Roper as he conducts experiments to illustrate the science behind some of Hollywood’s most beloved films, like Back to the Future, Die Hard, Alien, and Mad Max.

Origin

YouTube

Original release: 2024

Episode runtime: 47 minutes

Genre: Science Fiction

Director/Creator: Mika Watkins

Main cast: Natalia Tena, Tom Felton, Sen Mitsuji, Nora Arnezeder

A group of people travel together to a far-away planet aboard a spaceship. They all have different reasons for leaving their lives on Earth and must learn to work and live together. But one of the passengers may not be who they claim to be.

Those are our picks of the best YouTube originals. Check them out with a YouTube Premium account now and let us know which ones are your favorites.

What Autism Can Look Like

While more information than ever is available about autism, there are still prevalent stereotypes: The “Rain Man” stereotype of the severely impacted person with savant skills, and the less severely impacted “Bill Gates” stereotype, a scientifically or mathematically brilliant person with limited social skills.

Autism expert Dr. Stephen Shore, who is on the autism spectrum himself, says, “Once you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.” In other words, the elements that make up autism can be and are differently combined in every person on the spectrum. Here’s a great video that demonstrates what this means:

video

Other communication avenues are usually still available to him. He is still able to make gestures, nod, and shake his head. He can still write and draw. So to help give him time, the easiest thing for us is to simply wait the few seconds it takes for his speech center to kick back in. One method we use is the eight-second rule:

When my son experiences strong emotions, good or bad, the speech center of his brain stops working for a short time while it processes the emotion. If someone asks him a question during this moment, he will be unable to answer verbally. This can be a common occurrence in people on the autism spectrum. It doesn’t mean that they’re not paying attention or are being defiant, disrespectful, or uncooperative. For my son, it simply means that his brain needs more time to process a response.

Most students with autism will exhibit behaviors that don’t look like autism stereotypes and, instead, might look like misbehavior. But they are still autism behaviors. Below are kinds of behaviors which our son experienced in his classrooms and how we worked with his teachers to manage them.

My son was diagnosed on the autism spectrum in first grade. He’s now in sixth grade, and we have worked with his school over the years to support him and his teachers in understanding what autism can look like in him.

video

As each child’s response may be different, the best thing a teacher can do is talk with the child’s special education teacher and speech therapist to know how to best respond when this occurs.

Repetitive Body Movements

A very common hallmark of autism is “stimming,” a repetitive body movement like kicking a leg or twirling one’s hair. (Stimming can also be found in children without autism—here’s more information on different kinds of stimming.)

A child might use stimming for different reasons. Some children, like my son, use it as a calming strategy, often in response to sensory overload—bright lights, lots of movement, lots of sound, strange or intense smells, students brushing up against him in line.

Other children will stim as a means of increasing stimulus. This can be seen during quiet times in the classroom when a child is expected to sit still and listen. In this case the stim is used to stimulate the nervous system.

Stimming doesn’t mean that a student is bored or doesn’t want to be there. It isn’t an attention-getting device or a way to disrupt the lesson. His nervous system is driving the behavior—it’s not voluntary and is not always something he can control.

My son’s special education teacher used the phrase “unexpected behavior” as a code to help him to remember to manage his stims. When his stim might disturb students, our son’s IEP allowed that he could leave the classroom and go to a quiet space until he was ready to return.

One thing a teacher should never do is draw negative attention to a stim or try to publicly pressure or shame a student into stopping. This can increase anxiety and make the stimming worse. Trying to stop the stim outright can result in traumatic meltdowns.

Task Avoidance

Sometimes my son refuses to do classwork. Ninety-five percent of the time it’s not because he’s being defiant or intransigent, or “simply doesn’t want to do it”—it is because something else is going on. Understanding the underlying source of the behavior can be tricky and is often the cause of frustration for both teacher and student.  

Once my son suddenly refused to read an assigned book in class. After doing some digging, we discovered that the action in the story—the death of a parent and the subsequent resorting to thievery by the young protagonist—upset him so much that he was unable to focus on the reading. Our solution was to have the teacher give us summaries of upcoming reading to prepare him for story twists and emotional issues so that he would not be surprised and and would be better prepared for the emotional intensity.

Another time he completely stopped paying attention in his social studies class. After several weeks of struggling to get him to go to the class, we sat him down and talked about how he felt about going to the new classroom. By that time, he had processed and was able to describe what was bothering him. He told us that the classroom “smelled like stinky feet.” He was unable to focus with this overwhelming sensory input. We were able to work out a solution for him to stay in his home classroom for social studies.

Keys for Understanding Children With Autism

The takeaways from these examples can be applied with all children on the autism spectrum:

Daily Authority: 🎮 Xbox Keystone Won’T Happen

Adam Birney / Android Authority

⚡ Good morning! Keep reading for weird collabs!

Microsoft’s cloud game streaming device

Joe Hindy / Android Authority

The hot news of today is Microsoft’s Xbox streaming device: and that it’s not following the path documented by rumors.

At the same time, Microsoft confirmed those rumors. Let’s take a look.

The low down:

Some kind of Xbox streaming device stick/puck/box/accessory has been a pretty substantiated rumor for a few years now.

It was given a little more of a push when Microsoft clearly said that it wants people to play Xbox games on any device, not just an Xbox itself, and last year it announced it was making streaming devices.

A key pillar to that is its GamePass and Xbox Cloud Gaming service.

Microsoft calls this Xboxless-gaming “Xbox Everywhere,” and it’s something like watching Netflix on whatever device you have, but you’re gaming.

And now, a device is confirmed — it’s just that we won’t be getting it.

What’s new: 

The latest is that a “Keystone” codename device was on its way but a Windows Central report reveals things are changing.

Microsoft reveals in a statement that it’s a real thing but that it needs more time.

Quotes from a Microsoft spokesperson: “Our vision for Xbox Cloud Gaming is unwavering, our goal is to enable people to play the games they want, on the devices they want, anywhere they want. As announced last year, we’ve been working on a game-streaming device, codename Keystone, that could be connected to any TV or monitor without the need for a console.”

“As part of any technical journey, we are constantly evaluating our efforts, reviewing our learnings, and ensuring we are bringing value to our customers. We have made the decision to pivot away from the current iteration of the Keystone device. We will take our learnings and refocus our efforts on a new approach that will allow us to deliver Xbox Cloud Gaming to more players around the world in the future.”

Okay! So nothing coming out soon, it would seem.

Whatever pivot is going on here might be something to do with hardware or software, we don’t know, but this will need to be a better launch than poor old Google Stadia.

Other hints I’m seeing suggest that this doesn’t mean we’ll wait another few years, but just that Microsoft is iterating and trying to get things right over the months to come.

It’s not clear what OS it would run or the UI involved, yet. (Probably not Windows 11!)

What’s next:

The next Xbox launch comes on June 12, where a showcase of Xbox and Bethesda games will be on display, though …maybe not a lot of Starfield and Redfall, given their recently announced delays?

And while you’re here, consider this dive into if 8K gaming is even worth it, with TCL talking TVs and next-gen gaming. (Though clearly TCL hasn’t signed an NDA with Sony/Microsoft, as the article points out.)

Roundup Friday Fun

Ever since Samsung did the limited edition Poké Ball x Galaxy Buds 2, and then Leica switched teams from HUAWEI to Xiaomi, I’ve been thinking about brand collabs.

And now there are fresh collaborations that make little sense to me but here we are:

First, Oura and Gucci have partnered on a “luxury” wellness ring, which is the normal Oura Gen 3 but for $950!

It features black-coated titanium, the Gucci logo …and the same features and sensors as a standard Gen 3.

That’s about $600 more than the normal titanium metric tracker but you apparently also get a lifetime Oura membership. That normally costs $6 a month. So if you plan to wear one for 100 months or just over 8 years, it’ll pay itself off?

Also: Incredibly, Gucci built a persistent town inside of Roblox.

And then there’s VW and its ID Buzz electric vans which did a collab with Star Wars and the new Obi-Wan TV series, a Disney Plus show which dropped a little earlier than expected with two episodes on the platform out now.

For whatever reason, VW made a dark side and a light side edition of the vehicles (that you can’t buy):

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