Weighing meal options

I just listened to a neat podcast from Scientific American’s Karen Hopkin in which she described a new study published in the Journal of Ornithology that suggests Mexican Jays (Aphelocoma ultramarina) pick which peanut to eat only after literally weighing their options. The researchers modified some peanuts to remove the contents. The Mexican Jays were then offered unmodified nuts along with the…

Sadly, the second herpes virus-related death occurred after this story was released at the Albuquerque BioPark. The victim was a five-year old Asian elephant named Daizy. Source: The Scientist

A new study conducted by researchers Eric Vaillancourt and Jean-Michel Weber at the University of Ottawa examined blood sugar regulation in a bird that specialize in long distance migration, the Canada goose (Branta canadensis, image above). As referenced in the study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, Canadian geese migrate approximately 7,000…

Nature’s camouflage

Could you imagine artificial skin capable of quickly changing colors to communicate or hide? Scientists have been testing ways to mimic the skin of cephalopods like squid, octopuses and cuttlefish, which have a remarkable ability to change skin color and sometimes even texture to mimic their surroundings. Cephalopods have networks of chromatophores, which are cells within…

The seal of enigma!

I am excited to present this guest blog from Bridget Martinez, graduate student from the University of California, Merced. She has been studying elephant seals in the laboratory of Dr. Rudy Ortiz. She had presented her research at the 2015 Experimental Biology conference in Boston, MA which was mentioned in a prior blog . Here…

Just one more example of how much humans and chimpanzees have in common. Check out this podcast describing wild chimpanzees seen drinking fermented tree sap as well as the video below. Supplement video uploaded by the study’s authors (Hockings et al., Royal Society Open Science, 2015) on Youtube. Sources: Scientific American KJ Hockings, N Bryson-Morrison,…

If you have not already had a chance to see it, the T. Rex Autopsy airing on the National Geographic channel is a must-see! They literally created a model of T. Rex based on available evidence about T. Rex and other dinosaurs as well as evidence from modern birds and then performed an “autopsy”. The conclusion: T.…

Check out the tiny new species of frogs discovered in the cloud forests of Brazil. Images from LiveScience.

Dr. Walter Arnold (University of Vienna) and colleagues were interested in studying how Northern ungulates cope (physiologically) with limited food supplies during the winter months. Ungulates are known to reduce energy expenditure during the winter. A new study published Wednesday in the American Journal of Physiology-Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology describes how these animals adjust their nutritional intake. Dr. Arnold’s team examined intestinal transport…

Octopus-inspired robotic device

Speaking of octopuses, the ability for the animals to squeeze through narrow openings has inspired the creation of a new surgical robotic device that can squeeze into a patient’s body. An EU team created STIFFness controllable Flexible and Learnable manipulator for surgical OPerations, dubbed “STIFF-FLOP”, made from silicone. Unlike conventional robots used during surgeries, the…