10 common scientific misconceptions

Did you grow up believing in any of these science myths? From baby birds to flushing toilets, we debunk common 'facts' that are often just a form of misconstrued science. 

4. Mother birds will abandon their chicks if they are touched by humans

Ilya Naymushin/Reuters
Vadim Veligurov, 12, kisses Abi, a wild sparrow, during a walk near his grandmother's house in the town of Minusinsk, Russia. In June 2013, Veligurov found and brought the lost female baby bird to his grandmother's house, where he was spending summer vacation. The rescued sparrow, named Abi, didn't fly away and since then has spent most of her time with Veligurov.

Popular belief claims that if mothers smell the scent of human on their chicks, they will leave them to die. But it turns out that the touch of a human isn't enough to drive a mother away from her maternal duties.

"Birds don't have a very strong sense of smell, so you won't leave a scent that will alarm the parent," Cornell biologist Miyoko Chu tells Livescience.com. 
In reality, mother birds can be just as devoted as human parents.

"Usually, birds are quite devoted to their young and not easily deterred from taking care of them," Chu said.

But experts still advise not to poke through bird nests.

"The fact is, birds don't abandon their young in response to touch, [but] they will abandon [their offspring and their nest] in response to disturbance," University of Montana biologist Thomas Martin tells Scientific American.

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