Life Lines

Archives for July, 2011

Colorblind Cuttlefish

A reader sent in this intriguing question in response to the previous post on cuttlefish: “What is there vision like? Do they really see around them clearly enough to have evolved mimicry?” Researchers Mathger et al. have shown that the animals are actually colorblind but can distinguish objects that contrast from the background environment by…

Butterfly Antifungal

Photo: KENPEI, Wikimedia Commons. Researchers have isolated an antimicrobial peptide from swallowtail butterflies, Papilio xuthus (image above). After creating a synthesized version of the peptide they called Papiliocin, they wanted to know how it worked. What they found was that Papiliocin causes yeast cells (Candida albicans) to accumulate reactive oxygen species, which triggers a process…

Cunning Cuttlefish

I watched an amazing Nova special on cuttlefish, a relative of octopus. These animals really are the “Kings of Camouflage!” I have seen animals that can change colors to match their environments, but I have never seen one able to produce moving colors or to contort their bodies to mimic objects in their environment, like…

I was recently sent this intriguing question from a reader: Dear Dr. Dolittle, I heard in my science class that because honeybees have such high blood sugar levels, they can survive freezing…is that true? To answer this question, I turned to expert Dr. John G. Duman from the Department of Biological Sciences at the University…

Summer Photo Contest

Our summer photo contest is still under way! Please send your favorite photo of how animals are spending the summer to drdlttl01@gmail.com for a chance to win a fabulous “What’s new in comparative physiology” t-shirt from The American Physiological Society!

Cat Quandary

Photo Copyright: Arizona Game and Fish Department Looking at this photo, I can’t help but wonder why a bobcat thought it would be a good idea to climb to the top of a saguaro cactus…a really tall saguaro cactus. I had to find out. I did what anyone would do and searched Google. I found…

Image Source: The Goldfish Bowl: Canterbury Writers Gills are to fish what lungs are to mammals. This is where gas exchange between the animal and the environment takes place. As water flows across the gills, oxygen is taken up into the blood of the fish and carbon dioxide is removed. In both systems, oxygen is…

Image source: The American Physiological Society. I just read an amazing review article written by George Somero from the Department of Biology at Stanford University on how the field of comparative physiology may be used as a crystal ball to predict how different species will respond to global changes. Some changes that may impact species…

How animals spend the 4th

I will be celebrating the 4th of July this weekend with lots of barbecues while enjoying the summer weather. But I wonder what our animal friends will be doing this weekend… If last year is any indication, we know the animals at the Oregon Zoo will be having a lot of fun! To see just…