Archives for September, 2011

Upcoming Physiology Meetings

It is that time of year again when various chapters from The American Physiological Society hold their local meetings. I am looking forward to reporting the exciting news in physiology from these events! The Ohio Physiological Society is having their 26th annual meeting October 6-7 at the University of Cincinnati. The keynote speaker will be…

Fish Using Tools Caught on Video!

This video, captured by University of California Santa Cruz professor Giacomo Bernardi, shows an orange-dotted tuskfish (Choerodon anchorago) cracking open a clam by throwing it against a rock. Other fish from the wrasse family have also been observed using similar techniques to crack open clams. These include the blackspot tuskfish (Choerodon schoenleinii), yellowhead wrasse (Halichoeres…

Hidden Killers

Image source: Virgin Media Sandtiger shark (Carcharias taurus) pups emerge from the womb as experienced killers. Since they develop teeth and the ability to swim while still in the womb, the strongest embryo will actually kill and eat its siblings (embryophagy) and their yolk sacs. This ensures that the surviving embryo has sole access to…

Hoarding

I am always amazed by stories of people who hoard animals and find myself mesmerized by the TV series dedicated to this important animal welfare issue. The animals found in these situations are often very ill due to squalid living conditions and lack of adequate food or water. What I want to focus on, however,…

Where hummingbirds get their hum

…or rather their squeak in some cases. Male hummingbirds, like the Anna’s hummingbird shown above, perform impressive dive bombs to attract females. During the dive, the birds spread their tail feathers to produce a loud squeaking or trilling noise. In this neat video from Dr. Christopher Clark, you can watch dive bombs and listen to…

A reader sent in this question regarding our continuing conversation about how birds burn proteins to conserve water during long distance migrations: “It’s not immediately clear to me how burning intracellular proteins is going to automatically “free up” much water. I do know that burning fat makes more metabolic water, from scratch, per gram fuel…

Image Source: Science/AAAS You may recall a previous blog entry on how birds may be burning proteins to conserve water during long distance migration. I was delighted to hear more about this exciting research on NPR’s Weekend Edition this past Saturday. You can listen to the story here. To read more about Dr. Guglielmo’s exciting…

White nose syndrome, continued

Image Source: Smithsonian Institution As mentioned in previous posts, white nose syndrome is responsible for the decimation of hibernating North American bats. The cause of death is starvation attributed to increased arousal when the bats should be hibernating. Dr. Craig K.R. Willis and colleagues have published new findings supporting the plausibility of ” the dehydration…

Blowing Bubbles

I would never have guessed that the weapon of choice for a humpback whale is bubbles. Lots of bubbles. Researchers have found that these whales create what are called “bubble nets” around schools of fish. The fish see the tiny bubbles as a barrier that they cannot cross. The whales then swim through the barrier…

Urban Heat Islands

Image Source: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Cities and towns tend to be hotter than surrounding rural areas creating what are called urban heat islands. In a recent study, leaf-cutter ants (Atta sexdens rubropilosa) living in cities were found to have a higher heat tolerance than those living in rural areas (Angilletta et al.,…