Archives for September, 2010

Live fast, die young

One theory of aging holds that accumulation of reactive oxygen species from aerobic metabolism damages nucleotides, proteins and lipids. Therefore, animals with a higher metabolism (poor mice) would be expected to produce more reactive oxygen species and age at a faster rate than animals with a slower metabolism (go sloths!). In a healthy individual, antioxidants…

I just watched a re-run of the movie March of the Penguins…so cute! The movie documents how emperor penguins survive their long winter fast while incubating eggs. In fact, researchers have shown that penguins spend about half their time huddling with other penguins. This allows them to lower their metabolic rate by as much as…

Marmots Benefit from Climate Change?

In the spirit of discussing the effects of climate change, I thought it only appropriate to mention the findings of a recent article by Ozgul et al., published in Nature. The findings of this particular study point to global warming offering a distinct advantage for yellow-bellied marmots (Marmota flaviventis) whose populations have been increasing over…

Bird Breath

Birds are way cool. In this podcast from The American Physiological Society, Dr. John West at the University of California in San Diego discusses the unique adaptations of the avian respiratory system. In mammals, the movement of air in and out of the lungs in a bidirectional fashion is called ventilation. This air fills the…

Feathers are Not Just for Flying

In a recent issue of Science magazine, researchers Li et al., were able to determine the plumage color of an extinct non-avian theropod dinosaur. This was possible due to the presence of melanin-containing melanosomes, which were preserved in the fossilized feathers. The fossilized remains were from a Jurassic troodontid, Anchiornis huxleyi, an ancestor of Archaeopteryx…

Caitlin O’Connell-Rodwell is a Stanford University professor whose research focuses on how elephant vocalizations travel through the ground for great distances, and how other elephants can understand them, just as they understand acoustic sound, which travels through the air. O’Connell-Rodwell is the author of The Elephant’s Secret Sense. You can see videos of some of…