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…

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…

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…

Congratulations to Mallory Ballinger, a graduate student from the University of Minnesota-Duluth, who is the 2015 recipient of the Dr. Dolittle Travel Award! The purpose of this award is to recognize an outstanding graduate student or postdoctoral fellow involved in comparative and evolutionary research and to provide assistance for them to attend the annual American Physiological Society…

Whose DNA is that?

Dr. Christopher Mason (Weill Cornell Medical College, Manhatten, NY) decided to sequence DNA found in NY subway stations…468 of them to be precise. At each station, his research team collected DNA samples by swabbing the kiosks, turnstiles, benches, railings, trash cans as well as the subway cars. Along with finding abundant Pseudomonas bacteria (also found…

Passing rewarming saves energy

I came across a neat study published recently in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology which examined how bats arouse from hibernation, a period during which their body temperature and metabolism are low. To minimize the high energetic costs of warming up during arousal, bats use solar radiation or take…

Cone snail’s unique weapon: insulin

A new study published in the Proceedings of  the National Academy of Sciences shows that cone snails use a pretty neat tactic to capture prey. They release insulin to lower blood sugar (i.e. hypoglycemic shock), which immobilizes fish for an easy meal. The venomous insulin is molecularly different from molluscan insulin and was actually found…

Puppy Bowl XI

I am pretty excited about Puppy Bowl XI tomorrow afternoon on Animal Planet! So cute! (3pm) Team Ruff vs Team Fluff http://www.animalplanet.com/tv-shows/puppy-bowl/about-this-show/about-puppy-bowl/

An unexpected find and very exciting moment for researchers exploring what lies beneath 740 meters of ice in Antarctica…fish! An amazing find given the perpetual darkness and cold. In an expedition sponsored by the National Science Foundation, scientists and ice drillers bored a hole through the Ross Ice Shelf near the coast of Antarctica, 850…