Brain & Behavior

Bone-house wasps

A new species of spider wasp that protect their young with walls made of ant carcasses has been discovered in the forests of China. Dr. Michael Staab from the University of Freiburg discovered the new species which he named Deuteragenia ossarium meaning “bone-house wasp” since the wasps reminded him of the ossuaries in Europe with…

Kangaroo’s 5th leg

New research suggests that kangaroos use their tails as a 5th “leg”:

  It is not surprising that Biwa salmon (image above), a subspecies of Oncorhyncus masou, do not adapt to seawater very well after having been landlocked in Lake Biwa, Japan for the last 500,000 years or so.  Researchers from Hokkaido University and Shiga Prefecture Fishery Experiment Station in Japan wanted to know what caused the salmon to…

New research published in PLOS Genetics shows that starving C. elegans (Caenorhabditis elegans) during the late larval stage of development when the worms are undergoing tissue growth and formation halts cellular activity at previously unknown checkpoints in their development. These findings show that nutrition is an important cue to signal whether or not the worms should…

Day 2 — engineering life

Today we get to the science and the issues surrounding it. Karl Deisseroth gave the first keynote lecture. For anyone who’s been asleep the past few years, Deisseroth’s lab at Stanford is at the cutting edge of a new kind of brain research. They invented optogenetics — turning brain circuits on and off (in mice,…

Shivering is one mechanism by which heat is produced in the body. Heat production is called thermogenesis. Another mechanism is through nonshivering thermogenesis regulated by brown fat (i.e. adipose). This second type of heating mechanism kicks in when we need extra heat production such as a postnatal infant, someone developing a fever, an animal arousing…

Since mental health problems are estimated to affect some 10% of the world’s population, it stands to reason that if you don’t suffer from depression, anxiety or bipolar disorder yourself, you are probably close to someone who does. So you might be pleased to read about a new finding that could eventually lead to a…

I first heard about Wade’s book when a colleague started talking about bits and pieces of it. He was reading it pursuant to a writing a review. I asked the publisher for a review copy, which they kindly supplied, and started tracking the pre-publication reactions. After reading the first couple of chapters, I realized that…

The original tree hugger

New research sheds light why koalas (Phascolarctos cinereus) spend so much time hugging trees. As shown in the infrared image above, the trees stay cool on hot days. Since koalas do not sweat, hugging trees is another method to keep their cool in addition to panting and licking their fur. The research also shows that the…

Big-Eared Bat Rediscovered

The New Guinea big-eared bat (Pharotis imogene; specimen pictured above) was thought to be extinct for the past 120 years. The bat is now considered critically endangered or possibly extinct as this specimen is the only known member of the genus. Since very little is known of this endangered bat, researchers who identified this specimen suggest…