Life Science

We had a blizzard this week. It’s bitterly cold right now. I was trying hard to think of good reasons to have left the Pacific Northwest, and this is about the only thing I came up with: Devil’s Club.

  New research from the University of Lincoln, UK suggests that cats may prefer to find food using their eyes as opposed to their nose. The preference for vision vs. smell was tested in 6 cats placed in a maze that required cats to make decisions about which way to go based on either images or smells.…

Friday Cephalopod: Cephalove

Now you can learn everything you need to know about octopus sex. It’s a bit tangly: But just in case you got lost in all the tentacles, here’s a diagram to help you out. By the way, in case you’ve ever wondered where an octopus keeps its nads, they’re maybe not where you expected. There…

“A vacuum is a hell of a lot better than some of the stuff that nature replaces it with.” -Tennessee Williams The depiction of dying in space — by exposure to its terrifying vacuum — is incredibly varied, from freezing to swelling and bulging to simply exploding. For this week’s Ask Ethan, we take on…

I really never thought of spiders as being “pretty” until I came across these two new species of peacock spiders discovered in southeast Queensland, Australia by Madeline Girard (graduate student from the University of California, Berkeley, who is specializing in peacock spiders). Peacock spiders are not only beautiful, they also engage in elaborate dances during…

Penguins have poor taste

Researchers sequencing the five different taste receptors in penguins were surprised to discover that the animals do not have genes that encode for receptors that are specific for savory meaty flavors (like fish!), sweet or bitter tastes. Instead, the data suggest that penguins are only able to taste the saltiness or sourness of their foods…

  If there is anything that the past few decades of research and study of major global challenges tells us, it is that truly effective solutions to sustainability challenges require truly integrated approaches across disciplines, fields of study, data sets, and institutions. We are not going to solve 21st century global problems with 20th century…

I came across this neat press release from the University of Massachusetts: AMHERST, Mass. – Researchers studying the interaction between plants, pollinators and parasites report that in recent experiments, bees infected with a common intestinal parasite had reduced parasite levels in their guts after seven days if the bees also consumed natural toxins present in…

Mary’s Monday Metazoan: Poop propellors

That’s all I’ve got to say. Hippos are really into scat. Yeah, I’d hide too.

Wound healing with fish?

  Researchers in China have discovered that collagen isolated from the skin of tilapia effectively reduce wound healing time in mice. The usefulness of collagen, a major structural protein found in connective tussues, in wound healing has been known. Using fish proteins instead of typical mammalian sources reduces the risk for potential pathogens. Dr. Jiao…