Life Science

Friday Cephalopod: Day of mourning

The story begins in 1999 when Leonie, a zebra shark (aka a leopard shark in Australia), was captured from the wild. In 2006 she was transferred to Reef HQ Aquarium in Queensland, Australia where she met her mate. By 2008, she had started laying eggs and the pair had multiple litters of offspring through sexual reproduction. After her…

Ammonia tolerance of goldfish

Liver failure or congenital defects can lead to a build-up of ammonia in the brain of mammals resulting in life-threatening swelling, convulsions and comas. For goldfish (Carassius auratus), environmental exposure to ammonia causes reversible swelling of the brain. In a new study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, researchers wanted…

The Science of Spiteful Donald Trump

This is a descriptive model of Donald Trump’s behavior, which ultimately works out to a prediction that Donald Trump won’t last very long. In an evolutionary sense, at least. I’ve found that many people use the term “spite” incorrectly. Many assume it has to do with vitriol or nastiness, or otherwise, is motivated negative behavior…

Why orcas go through menopause

Orcas are one of only three species of mammals that go through menopause, including humans of course. A new study published in Current Biology may have discovered why this happens in killer whales. Examination of 43 years worth of data collected by the Center for Whale Research and Fisheries and Oceans Canada, revealed a remarkable finding…

Sometimes, you just don’t want to know about the lifestyles of the tentacled. The vampire squid lurks in the eternal midnight of the deep sea and a cloak-like web stretches between its eight arms. When threatened, it turns inside out, exposing rows of finger-like projections, called cirri. Vampire squid eat mostly “marine snow”—a mixture of…

It’s time for the annual blog about the annual Nucleic Acids Research (NAR) database issue. This is the 24th database issue for NAR and the seventh blog for @finchtalk. Like most years I have no idea what I’m going to write about until I start reading the new issue. Something always inspires me. This year’s…

A Fortunate Universe: Life in a Finely Tuned Cosmos This is a concept that has always fascinated me, ever since reading some stuff about the Periodic Table of Elements. Check it out: Over the last forty years, scientists have uncovered evidence that if the Universe had been forged with even slightly different properties, life as…

The obese marathon mouse

As the name implies, Dummerstorf marathon mice are bred to run. If allowed to be sedentary, these animals can build up quite a bit of fat within their peripheral tissues even if they do not overeat. If given an exercise wheel, however, they burn fat very quickly. In a new study published in the Journal of Comparative Physiology – B,…

The video spares you the worst of it: they also insist on beginning every meal with a round of poetry.