Abby Sciuto

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Abigail "Abby" Sciuto
NCIS character
AbbySciuto.png
Pauley Perrette as Abby Sciuto in a flashback in the Season 7 episode, "Truth or Consequences".
First appearance Ice Queen (JAG)
Portrayed by Pauley Perrette
Brighton Sharbino (age 10)[1]
Other Appearances NCIS: Los Angeles
Information
Gender Female
Occupation Forensic Scientist, NCIS
Family Unnamed adoptive father (deceased)
Gloria Sciuto (adoptive mother, deceased)
Luca Sciuto (adoptive brother)
Kyle Davis (biological brother)
Gert (aunt)
Horace (uncle)
Teddy (uncle)
Larry (uncle)
Unnamed niece
Religion Catholic

Abigail "Abby" Sciuto /ˈʃt/ is a fictional character from the NCIS television series on CBS Television, and is portrayed by Pauley Perrette. In a Season 10 episode entitled "Hit and Run", a young Abby was played by Brighton Sharbino in flashbacks. Like Jethro Gibbs, Anthony DiNozzo, and Dr. Donald Mallard, Abby was first introduced in the episodes "Ice Queen" and "Meltdown" (which together served as the backdoor pilot for NCIS) in the television show JAG, and has appeared in every episode of NCIS, in addition to being featured on the show's spin-offs, NCIS: Los Angeles (2 episodes) NCIS: New Orleans (1 episode). The role has made Perrette the most popular actress on U.S. primetime television in 2011,[2] according to Q Score.

Abby Sciuto is a forensic scientist at the Naval Criminal Investigative Service headquarters at the Washington Naval Yard, with expertise in ballistics, digital forensics, and DNA analysis. In the first episode of the seventh season, "Truth or Consequences", DiNozzo, while under the influence of a truth serum, describes her as "a paradox wrapped in an oxymoron smothered in contradictions in terms. Sleeps in a coffin. Really, the happiest goth you'll ever meet."[3] Her gothic style of dress and her interest in death and the supernatural enigmatically contrast with her generally hyperactive demeanor and enthusiasm about her work.[4]

Concept and casting[edit]

Prior to taking up a career in acting, Pauley Perrette had studied at John Jay School of Criminal Science in New York, having previously aspired "to work with animals, be in a rock 'n' roll band, or be an FBI agent."[5] She eventually began acting, later saying, "There’s no drug that I ever did that worked as well as being an actor. What you’re looking for with substance abuse is escape. But with acting, you can escape into 1,000 different things without almost killing yourself doing it. Acting is a total drug!"[5]

Perrette was cast for the role of Abby Sciuto in 2003. On the subject of her character's creation and its purpose, she said "[NCIS creator] Don Bellisario told me that when he created Magnum, P.I. he wanted to introduce a Vietnam vet who defied the negative stereotype. So with Abby, he wanted to take an alternative-style person with tattoos and make her someone who is happy, totally put together and successful. All the script said about her was: black hair, caffeinated and smart...She's completely unaware that anybody thinks she looks weird. She thinks she looks pretty and never calls herself anything other than happy. And I fight for that."[6]

Child actress Brighton Sharbino was cast to portray 10-year-old Abby for the Season 10 episode "Hit and Run", which featured several flashbacks to a young Abby. Sharbino, who strongly resembled Perrette, reportedly spent time with the latter "in part to pick up on the NCIS vet’s mannerisms and such."[1]

Characterization[edit]

Abby has a gothic style of dress,[1] including black dresses and T-shirts, mini-skirts, and goth jewelry, including anklets and toe rings. She wears pigtailed dyed hair (due to Perrette's hair being dyed as she is a natural blonde[6]), and has at least nine tattoos on her neck, arms, back, ankle and other places.[6] Her neck choker appears to be one of her favourite pieces of jewelry. While some of the tattoos are Perrette's and real, others are makeup, such as the large cross on her back applied on occasions when Perrette shows her bare back on camera.[7] The spider web on her neck is not real either, as producer Donald P. Bellisario wanted the character to have a tattoo that would be visible (almost) all the time. However Perrette has expressed dislike for the spider tattoo, saying that "It only takes a few minutes to do, but it feels like old chewing gum,"[6] and wishes for an episode where Abby gets it removed.[7] Abby also has a stuffed hippo named "Bert" that makes flatulence noises when squeezed, which has been used for comic effect when Abby is upset.[4] She decorates some of the areas in her lab with toys such as 'Bleeding Edge Goth' dolls and 'Teddy Scares.' The Teddy Scare 'Rita Mortis' can be seen sitting next to her computer monitor. Abby's biggest pet peeve, as revealed in Season 5's "Lost and Found" by Timothy McGee, is people who claim to be vegetarians but still eat chicken; her second biggest pet peeve is people who mishandle evidence.[8]

Pauley Perrette commented, "Don (Bellisario) wanted to do Abby as an alternative-lifestyle person, but not as a junkie or a thief. She might be the smartest person on television."[9] When asked about her depiction of a goth character, she responded that Abby "wouldn't call herself anything but Abby...What she represents is a smart, capable chick that cannot be reduced to a stereotype."[10]

Abby drives a candy-apple red Ford '32 Deuce Coupe bearing a Washington, D.C. personalized vanity plate "4NS CHIK" which is prominently featured in Season 5's "Dog Tags".[11] She previously drove a hearse (mentioned in "Hiatus, Part I"), which ran poorly and had bald tires.

Like Gibbs, Abby enjoys caffeine,[6] primarily in the form of large cups of a fictional drink called "Caf-Pow." At times, when she is worried about the caffeine interfering with her sleep, she drinks "No-Caf-Pow" instead. (According to Perrette, the cups were originally filled with Hawaiian Punch, but when she stopped eating and drinking refined sugar, unsweetened cranberry juice was used instead.)[12] When changing the artwork in her lab during "Hung Out to Dry", she states that she has a "Chagall feeling", a reference to Marc Chagall, a Jewish Belarusian artist whose main works came from fantasy and dreams. Her favorite term for something out of the ordinary is "hinky". It is also shown that she enjoys attending concerts, but her failure to wear earplugs at one of them left her with temporary hearing loss the next day, forcing her to ask DiNozzo for help analyzing some audio evidence.[13]

Abby has shown a tendency to become very agitated, to the point of near-panic, if any of the team are seriously hurt. When Gibbs was admitted to hospital, Abby ended up on the verge of a nervous breakdown, pacing back and forth while delivering a rambling, disjointed stream-of-consciousness plea that explained (among other things) how close she and Gibbs were, the reason she was arriving after visiting hours, how she felt about Gibbs being injured, and how important it was to her that Gibbs not die from his injuries.

Abby developed a fondness for Butch, a Navy sniffer dog, in the season 5 episode "Dog Tags". She renamed it "Jethro" after Gibbs, because it was "handsome and quiet" like him. The dog was framed for the murder of a petty officer as the dog was found at the murder victim's house, but Abby proved Jethro's innocence. Afterwards, Abby forced McGee to adopt the dog, much to his dismay (as Jethro had attacked him earlier in the episode). Abby would have preferred to adopt Jethro herself, but her landlord did not allow tenants to have pets.

Backstory[edit]

Sciuto is portrayed as having a happy, normal childhood. Her younger brother, Luca, was first mentioned by name in the season nine episode Enemy on the Hill.[14] He appears in season ten in a flashback.[15] She also mentioned that she has a niece[16] and that her grandmother was an Olympic swimmer who won a silver medal.[17] She has mentioned several uncles, including one named Teddy who owned a bar,[18] one named Horace whom she referred to as Horace "the Haggler" during an episode, and one named Larry who apparently wore knee-high socks and fanny packs.

"Bert", Abby's stuffed hippo that often provides being a running gag by farting when squeezed

Abby is a hearing child adopted by deaf parents[19] and likes her music loud. In the episode "Seadog", Gibbs tells Tony that Abby knows how to use sign language because both of her parents were deaf. Abby has stated that she dreams of visiting the Galápagos Islands, Dollywood, and Israel before she dies.[20] Abby graduated with full honors from LSU with a triple major in sociology, criminology and psychology. She earned her master's degree from Georgia State University in criminology and forensic science. Sciuto's interest in forensics came from living near a wrecking yard and being intrigued by the cause and effect of the wrecks.[20][21] The season 9 episode "Enemy on the Hill" revealed that Abby has another brother, Kyle (played by Daniel Louis Rivas), who is her biological brother, as it is revealed that Abby is in fact adopted.[22]

She appears well-versed in her field of study;[4] she is rarely stumped by the puzzles that Gibbs' team present to her. Abby has been shown to have skills in traditional forensics, computer forensics, and hacking. She has implied that she has a PhD in chemistry.[23] It has been shown that she does all the work on the evidence herself. In season 3, when she was given an assistant, Charles "Chip" Sterling, she revolted but eventually learned to put up with him. However their working partnership did not last long as Abby later discovered Sterling had framed DiNozzo for murder. Exposed, Chip threatened her with a knife; she promptly subdued him, hog-tied him with duct tape, and insisted on being allowed to work alone from then on, something then-Director Jenny Shepard agreed to.

It has also been mentioned numerous times that she is a devout Roman Catholic and is on a bowling team with several nuns.

In the 2009 NCIS: Los Angeles episode "Random On Purpose", Abby is described as being in her late 20s. However, in a flashback in the 2013 NCIS episode "Hit and Run", she is shown to be ten years old in the early 1980s, implying that she is closer to her mid to late 30s.

Relationships[edit]

Abby gets along well with all the rest of the team.[4] She is very fond of Ducky, who uses her full name, Abigail. (She is called Abby or Abbs by most everyone else, except Director Leon Vance, who calls her Ms. Sciuto.) Abby is fiercely loyal to the team, and considers them family which is shown by her distress when one or more of them is in serious danger. Likewise, the team are generally fond of her and describe her as "the favorite".

Before her death in the line of duty, Special Agent Caitlin Todd was a close friend of Abby's. They often hung out after work, and Abby is one of the few to know what Kate's tattoo actually is.

She is friendly with Medical Assistant Jimmy Palmer. She has helped him with an autopsy and "Rolfed" him when he injured himself in the morgue in "Life Before His Eyes". In "Newborn King", Palmer brings his future father in-law, Ed Slater, to NCIS. Later in the episode McGee visits Abby to see she has locked the two in the back room. Jimmy states if Slater hadn't made a comment about Abby's tattoo then they wouldn't be in time out, implying he took Abby's side. Jimmy also chose Abby to be his "Best Woman" at his wedding in "The Missionary Position".[24]

In the episode "Crescent City" it's shown that she has a relationship with Senior Special Agent Dwayne Cassius Pride who runs the New Orleans NCIS office.

Leroy Jethro Gibbs[edit]

Abby and Gibbs are depicted as having a close friendship, with her initially being one of only two characters (the other one being Ducky) to have no fear of him. Gibbs is often seen giving Abby kisses on the cheek, and hugging her, especially when she does good work on the cases she works on. He often brings her a fresh Caf-Pow when he arrives at the lab for information on a case, whether or not she has called him down to tell him about it. Gibbs generally tolerates Abby's goth dress style, knowing that she does a great job in her work, but often has to ask her to get to the point when she starts rambling. Abby sometimes turns to Gibbs when she needs to talk about something personal that is bothering her and he helps by listening to her. Both Gibbs and Abby are proficient with American Sign Language, as Abby grew up with deaf parents. On several occasions, Abby has been described as "the favorite", a fact that does not escape the rest of the team, but they do not begrudge her for it.

Gibbs is also very protective of Abby, especially when she is in very serious danger. For example, in the episode "Bloodbath", she was threatened by a hit man hired by a defendant in a case in which she was testifying, which was also complicated by an ex-boyfriend, Mikel Mawher[25] (guest star, Vincent Young), against whom she had a restraining order, but who then called her in violation of the order. When Gibbs found out about this, he pointedly told Mikel, "The only reason you're still able to walk is because I never heard about you until today!"[26]

Sometimes, that protectiveness extends from the rest of the team as well. For example in the episode "Spider and the Fly", Alejandro Rivera came to NCIS and began to threaten Abby for not sending in a report about the murder of Pedro Hernandez, Rivera's father, whom Gibbs had killed twenty years previously in revenge for Hernandez killing Gibbs' first wife, Shannon, and young daughter, Kelly. The entire team, including Ducky and Vance, ordered him to leave her alone and to not harass her, or to be escorted forcibly from NCIS Headquarters. Rivera eventually left of his own accord, but was later arrested for attempting to kill Gibbs and his father at a safehouse, and accidentally killing his sister, Paloma.

Gibbs' concern for Abby's safety is such that he will even drop his trademark cup of coffee if she is in serious danger. Twice this occurred: in the episode "Kill Ari" when Ari shot at her while she was in her lab, the other time was in the episode "Driven" when she was trapped inside an experimental Humvee, which had been rigged to fill with exhaust fumes and suffocate its occupants.

Ziva David[edit]

Abby was at first cold to Ziva David when the latter first arrived at NCIS as she, like the rest of the team, was still grieving over Kate Todd's death and the fact that Ziva was Ari Haswari's half-sister. Abby would scribble over pictures of Ziva and frequently mispronounce her surname to annoy her. Later, upset by Ziva's calm response to Gibbs being injured in a bombing, Abby slapped her.

Abby eventually came around, and she and Ziva became good friends. This was solidified in the episode "Capitol Offense" when Ziva, in gratitude for Abby allowing her to stay at her place (Ziva's home was being fumigated for termites), bought her a "chocoholic's choice" cupcake. The cupcake soon vanished, and Abby brought out all her forensic know-how to find it. Ultimately, it was McGee who had taken the cupcake, angering Abby and the others. At first, Ziva flinched whenever Abby would hug her given that she did not know why Abby did so, but eventually, she overcame this, and Ziva now accepts Abby's hugs with no problems.

In the season seven finale, Abby was shown to be present at Ziva's citizenship ceremony, along with Ducky, McGee, and Jimmy Palmer.

Later in the episode Gone, the two bonded more when Ziva took in a teenage girl who witnessed her father's murder and best friend's kidnapping as they both tried to help the girl feel at ease throughout the ongoing investigation.

After Ziva's father was gunned down in Shabbat Shalom, Abby was shown baking cookies in an attempt to help her feel better.

Tony DiNozzo[edit]

Abby's relationship with Tony is a friendly one, with the two making friendly, non-hostile jibes at each other, and squabbling about various topics, such as movies and personal possessions. Abby is perhaps the only member of the NCIS cast who displays a love and knowledge of movies that even comes close to matching Tony's. In "Twilight," after Tony narrowly avoids being part of an explosion on his first day back from sick leave after getting pneumonic plague, she runs at him and hugs him so hard he nearly falls over. In the episode, "Frame-Up," she almost single-handedly unravels the forensic evidence used to frame Tony of murder in order to clear his name, then subdues the killer – her assistant Chip Sterling – when he threatens her with a knife.[4] The explosion of Tony's car in "Bury Your Dead" causes her to become increasingly obsessed with her work, in order to prevent thoughts of his possible death. In "Reunion," after Tony, McGee and Gibbs rescue Ziva from Somalia, Abby starts with a rant criticizing Ziva for her continuing mistrust of Tony, which, in trademark Abby fashion, ends with her saying how worried she was about Ziva, and hugging her. This then sparks a confrontation between Tony and Ziva that sees their relationship restored to normal.

Tim McGee[edit]

She had a relationship with McGee which she stated that she would like to keep casual during season 1. Although the relationship ended late in the same season, they both have exhibited jealousy when someone of the opposite sex pays attention to the other.[4] There continues to be some erotic teasing and tension between the two for the next several seasons, implied through such facts as McGee's apparent ability to describe the inside of Abby's bedroom in his novel. After finding out Abby sleeps in a coffin, he said, "You told me it was a box sofa," indicating he has at least stayed over. The implications went farther when he added, "I can't believe I slept in a coffin," and she impishly replied, "Not just slept." In the episode "Bloodbath" when Abby's life is threatened and the team sends her home with McGee, it is revealed at one point Abby kept a toothbrush at McGee's apartment.

Their flirtation became less prominent in later seasons, and TV Guide Magazine Senior Critic Matt Roush suggested that this was due to the producers' apprehension about using romance within the series to an excess.[27] He reasoned that "pairing up all four members of Gibbs' team romantically might seem like overkill, and the Tony-Ziva dynamic (even if not exactly acted upon) is so integral to the show's core that I'm not surprised they've kept McGee and Abby on more of a loving-sibling level."[27] He further opinionated that he "wouldn't expect it to change".[27]

Appearance on NCIS: Los Angeles[edit]

In the NCIS: Los Angeles episode "Random on Purpose", Abby, having been previously seen on video-conference or talking to someone from her lab in Washington D.C, arrived in Los Angeles to meet the Office of Special Projects (OSP) team as she informed them she was investigating a serial killer called the Phantom who had murdered 15 people all over the country and had also left no DNA or even physical evidence at the scenes.

Having already formed a strong friendship with Eric Beale, Abby developed friendships with the OSP team, including G. Callen (Chris O'Donnell); Sam Hanna (LL Cool J); and most notably the operations manager Hetty Lange (Linda Hunt) who commented that Abby is "the first NCIS employee [she] has ever met with a sense of style".[28] Kensi Blye, another NCIS Special Agent who is an expert in forensics praised Abby for her high levels of thinking, stating that she lived up to the hype.

Abby was later kidnapped by the Phantom, later revealed to be a law firm receptionist named Tom Smith who sought to kill her to keep his identity a secret as he hoped to go around, killing more people, having developed something of a taste for it. Although Vance mentioned that Gibbs and the NCIS Major Case Response Team were en route to Los Angeles to rescue her, Abby was saved thanks to the efforts of the OSP team and was later seen telling Gibbs and McGee on a video-conferencing link that she was okay.

To date, Abby has not returned to Los Angeles nor has she reappeared in any video-conference calls which strongly suggests that her appearances in Season 1 were just a one-off.

Reception[edit]

Fan's cartoon rendition of Abby

During the first season of NCIS, Ross Warneke from The Age wrote of the character, "Her role is pivotal in the show because, as with so many crime series these days, the forensics laboratory is the scene of much of the action. Perrette's only shortcoming is her diction. Am I the only one who has difficulty understanding her?"[29] In January 2005, Bill Keveney from USA Today compared the characters on NCIS to those on Magnum, P.I. and commented, "the tattooed Abby, the presumed slacker who is anything but, is Bellisario's not-what-she-appears-to-be tribute to Magnum, a functioning, well-balanced Vietnam vet who contrasted many depictions of the era."[9] New York Times writer Bill Carter described Abby as "television's only regular goth personality" in October of the same year.[30]

Later in the show's run, reception continued to be mostly positive, with some critics regarding her as "easily the most outgoing and affectionate member of the group".[31] In 2009, David Martingale of Star-Telegram wrote, "Abby Sciuto, a forensics scientist who, with her caffeine-fueled high energy and kooky Goth/cheerleader wardrobe, is one of a kind".[32] June Thomas from Slate Magazine noted in November 2011 that, "Abby may look like a freak, but she's a church-going patriot."[33] She has been described as "spacy"[34] and "a witty, lovable personality with forensic skills that are even greater than her charm."[4]

C. Coville from Cracked magazine criticized the choice to describe Abby's age as "late twenties" in her 2009 guest appearance on NCIS: Los Angeles, finding it unbelievable for someone who "has still somehow picked a PhD in chemistry, bachelor's degrees in sociology, criminology and psychology, and good knowledge of hacking and computer forensic science".[35]

In March 2011, AOL named Abby as number 95 on a list of the 100 Most Memorable Female TV Characters.[36] In April 2013, a study by E-Poll Market Research listed Pauley Perrette and Cote de Pablo, who portrays Ziva David, among the top 10 most appealing celebrities in America.[37] Perrette and de Pablo were ranked as numbers 5 and 3 respectively.[38]

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Mitovich, Matt Webb (December 9, 2012). "Exclusive: NCIS Casts Young Abby for Origin Episode Full of 'Prizes' for Longtime Fans". TV Line. Retrieved 23 February 2013. 
  2. ^ Rice, Lynette (August 3, 2011). "The most popular star in primetime is...". Inside TV (blog). Entertainment Weekly. Retrieved September 26, 2012. 
  3. ^ "Truth or Consequences". NCIS. Season 7. Episode 1.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g Lipovetsky, Josh (November 13, 2009). "NCIS Character Analysis - Abby Sciuto". Yahoo!. Retrieved February 23, 2013. 
  5. ^ a b Moore, Frazier. "Pauley Perrette proud to play Abby on 'NCIS'". interview. Associated Press. Retrieved February 24, 2013. 
  6. ^ a b c d e De Leon, Kris. "NCIS: Getting to know Abby Sciuto Through Paulley Perrette". interview. Buddy TV / TV Guide. Retrieved September 26, 2012. 
  7. ^ a b Season 5 DVD Extras
  8. ^ Lee, Jacob (March 2, 2011). "Best NCIS Abby Sciuto Quotes". Yahoo!. Retrieved February 23, 2013. 
  9. ^ a b Keveney, Bill (January 11, 2005). "'NCIS': CBS' invisible success". USA Today. Retrieved February 23, 2013. 
  10. ^ Perrette, Pauley (Summer 2004), Dearest Abby, Asleep By Dawn: 54 
  11. ^ "Dog Tags". NCIS. Season 5. Episode 13. April 15, 2008. 22:52 minutes in. CBS.
  12. ^ "Secrets from Inside NCIS Lab". The Early Show. September 24, 2009. CBS. http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2009/09/22/earlyshow/leisure/celebspot/main5329054.shtml.
  13. ^ "Deception". NCIS. Season 3. Episode 13.
  14. ^ "Enemy On The Hill". NCIS. Season 9. Episode 4.
  15. ^ Wolfe, Douglas (January 30, 2013). "NCIS Review: Teddy and Rabbit". TV Fanatic. Retrieved February 23, 2013. 
  16. ^ "My Other Left Foot". NCIS. Season 1. Episode 12.
  17. ^ "SWAK". NCIS. Season 2. Episode 22. May 10, 2005. CBS.
  18. ^ "Cover Story". NCIS. Season 4. Episode 20. April 10, 2007. 08:51 minutes in. CBS.
  19. ^ "Seadog". NCIS. Season 1. Episode 3.
  20. ^ a b Season 6, Episode 25 "Alyiah"
  21. ^ "Hung Out to Dry". NCIS. Season 1.
  22. ^ Season 9, Episode 4 "Enemy on the Hill"
  23. ^ "Power Down". NCIS. Season 7. Episode 8. November 17, 2009. 36:33 minutes in. CBS.
  24. ^ Marsi, Steve (April 10, 2012). "NCIS Review: Look to Yourself". TV Fanatic. Retrieved February 23, 2013. 
  25. ^ "(#321) "Bloodbath"". the Futon Critic. Retrieved September 26, 2012. "Mikel Mawher: Vincent Young" 
  26. ^ "Bloodbath". NCIS. Season 3. Episode 21. April 25, 2006. 15:20 minutes in. CBS.
  27. ^ a b c Roush, Matt (June 24, 2013). "Ask Matt: Dramedies, Arrested, Nurse Jackie, H50, Hannibal". TV Guide. Retrieved July 9, 2013. [dead link]
  28. ^ "Random on Purpose". NCIS: Los Angeles. Season 1. Episode 9. November 24, 2009. CBS.
  29. ^ Warneke, Ross (May 13, 2004). "Death of Sunday movies". The Age (Melbourne). Retrieved February 23, 2013. 
  30. ^ Carter, Bill (October 27, 2005). "Behind a Quiet Little Hit, a Reliable Hit Maker". New York Times. Retrieved June 7, 2013. 
  31. ^ "Before They Were Famous: The stars of 'NCIS'". Fox News. March 1, 2012. Retrieved May 20, 2013. 
  32. ^ Martingale, David (October 17, 2009). "Slowly but Surely, NCIS Rises to Top of Ratings". Star Telegram. 
  33. ^ Thomas, June (November 9, 2011). "NCIS, WTF?". Slate. Retrieved February 23, 2013. 
  34. ^ Hinckley, David (February 13, 2013). "With little fanfare, the steady procedural 'NCIS' has become a massive hit for CBS". The Daily News (New York). Retrieved May 21, 2013. 
  35. ^ Coville, C. (January 9, 2011). "5 Things TV Writers Apparently Believe About Smart People". Cracked. Retrieved August 6, 2013. 
  36. ^ Potts, Kim (March 2, 2011). "100 Most Memorable Female TV Characters". AOL TV. Retrieved September 26, 2012. 
  37. ^ "Actress Betty White named America's most appealing celebrity". Reuters. April 10, 2013. Retrieved April 11, 2013. 
  38. ^ "National treasure Betty White named 'most appealing celebrity'". Mother Nature Network. April 11, 2013. Retrieved April 12, 2013. 

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