Archives for December, 2011

Alcoholic mice

Dr. Nicholas Grahame and colleagues at Indiana University-Purdue University in Indianapolis have selectively bred mice that prefer drinking alcohol and apparently binge drink. Until now, other mice would choose water over alcohol. These inebriated mice are the first model of severe human alcoholism that not only models the blood alcohol levels, but also the behavior.…

Just in: Top 10 new species of 2011

This is an exciting day for a comparative physiologist! I just received word from a reader that the top 10 newly discovered species of 2011 have been chosen. This is an annual “contest” put on by the International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University along with an international committee of taxonomists. The winners,…

See the amazing symbiotic relationship that has evolved between jellyfish and algae. This relationship began 12,000 years ago when ocean levels were higher as a result of melting glaciers. With the higher ocean levels, creatures like the golden jellyfish trickled into an island lake. As the ocean levels dropped, the jellyfish became trapped and evolved…

Energy Efficient Hornets

In the search for energy efficient animals, I came across this neat little bug, the Oriental hornet (Vespa orientalis) that can apparently derive energy from the sun. These bugs will actually work their hardest when the sun is at its peak, which is in contrast to similar species that work hardest in the morning when…

More than 200 new species have been discovered since last year in Greater Mekong region. My new favorite is the snub-nosed monkey that looks like Elvis.

Giggling gorillas

A researcher studying the evolution of laughter has observed that things that make us laugh, like tickling our feet, also make our ape relatives giggle like children: To hear the gorilla better, watch this more recent video: Here is a YouTube video of a chimpanzee at the Chimfunshi Wildlife Orphanage in Zambia giggling when being…

Why chimps eat seemingly strange food

Image Credit: Animal Planet Researchers have discovered that the reason chimpanzees eat certain foods may have nothing to do with having a sophisticated palate, but rather, the animals appear to be self-medicating. I suppose if you were a chimpanzee it would be difficult to find a doctor to treat your most recent parasitic infection. The…

Nameless Octopus

The Smithsonian National Zoo needs your help naming this young giant Pacific octopus: Image Credit: Tamie DeWitt, Smithsonian’s National Zoo The deadline for submitting entries is December 12th at 5pm. The caveat: to suggest a name, you must be a child between the ages of 5 and 15 years. If you (or your children) qualify,…

Journey of the Butterflies

Was anyone able to see the special on Nova “The Incredible Journey of the Butterflies” that aired yesterday? Talk about long-distance migration! Every year, over 100 million newly hatched monarch butterflies travel from southern Canada and the northeastern United States ~2000 miles on a 2 month journey to a single mountain range in Mexico. It…