Life Lines

Archives for August, 2011

Dolphin gets a prosthetic tail!

A dolphin has been given a prosthetic tail after she severely injured hers in a crab trap. You can watch the video of her story here. The story of the dolphin called “Winter” is so inspiring that a movie is being made of her incredible story called “Dolphin Tale”. You can see the preview here.…

Earthquake Predictors

Image Source: www.animalsandearthquakes.com The recent earthquake on the East Coast has me thinking about animals. Specifically, animals that can reportedly predict earthquakes…a feat humans have yet to reliably accomplish. According to the US Geological Survey, animals may be able to sense the fast traveling P waves which arrive seconds prior to the S wave of…

Speaking of Heat

Image Source: NSF.gov As the heat of summer drags on…and on…I can’t help but envy heat tolerant animals. The BBC Worldwide actually has a website dedicated to these thermophiles, or heat loving animals. I would never have guessed that a worm would be the most heat tolerant animal known. Specifically, the Pompeii worms thrive at…

Cool Brains

Seals are actually able to reduce the temperature of their brains to decrease the amount of oxygen needed to sustain metabolism during dives. In a recent study, the brains of harp (Pagophilus groenlandicus; shown above) and hooded (Cystophora cristata) seals were found to cool by as much as 2.5°C during dives in 4°C water. This…

Summer Photo Contest Winner!!

The winner of our Summer Photo Contest is “Dip in the Pool” (above) submitted by Amanda Byrnes. The photo was taken this summer in Massachusetts. This particular photo was chosen because it exemplifies how frogs, which are ectotherms, can cool off in the heat of the summer. Congratulations Amanda! As the winner, she will receive…

Chick Locomotion

Chicks hatch from their eggs with the ability to walk and swim. After only 3 days in the egg, chicks begin to move. Researchers wanted to know if the movements in the egg prepared chicks for their big debut. They synchronized electromyograms for leg muscles, force, and video from late-stage embryos on days 15, 18…

Pretty Bird = Healthy Bird

Male: Female: Images Source: USFWS Ever wonder how the plumage of birds can be so colorful? Take, for example, the Yellow-headed blackbird (Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus) shown above. Those yellow feathers are possible because of yellow-red dietary pigments called carotenoids. It turns out that these pigments don’t just stop at ensuring colorful sexual displays. They are also…

Twitter

Dr. Dolittle is now on Twitter! (DrDoScienceBlog)

Rat Attack Recap

Once again, NOVA did not disappoint. I really enjoyed watching the “Rat Attack” special. I don’t want to spoil it for anyone who has not yet had a chance to watch it, but I found the cyclical correlation between black rat populations and bamboo flowering fascinating. I was astonished to learn how quickly black rats…

Once again I find myself looking forward to a special program by NOVA National Geographic called “Rat Attack”. The program airs tonight so be sure to check your local PBS listings for times. Here is a description of the special: “Once every 48 years, bamboo forests in parts of northeast India go into exuberant flower.…