Archives for February, 2012

I am getting very excited about the upcoming Experimental Biology conference especially since this year marks the 125th anniversary of The American Physiological Society for which there are many planned celebrations. Not to mention, the programming for comparative physiology at this year’s meeting is really exciting: Comparative and Evolutionary Physiology Section Distinguished Lecture: Tuesday, April…

That explains the fly in my beer…

As it turns out, researchers have discovered that fruit flies will actually drink alcohol created from rotting fruits to kill off parasitic wasp larvae. Source: YouTube Video: Emory University Milan NF, Kacsoh BZ, Schlenke TA. Alcohol Consumption as Self-Medication against Blood-Borne Parasites in the Fruit Fly. Current Biology Feb 16, 2012.

Image Source: PLoS One A new tiny species of chameleon (Brookesia micra) was recently discovered in Madagascar. The scientists who discovered the animal speculate that it is likely at the lower limit of size for a vertebrate with complex eyes. Shown in the image above is a juvenile. At a little over half an inch,…

Resurrecting Ancient Life

Russian scientists succeeded in growing a plant from 30,000 year-old (late Pleistocene) fruit tissue! The fruit tissue was found in an ancient squirrel’s burrow frozen in the permafrost. You are probably thinking, what in the world does this have to do with animals or physiology? I’ll tell you. There is also talk of the possibility…

Image Source: Newsweek (DLILLC-Corbis) I just came across this neat synopsis from Newsweek about obesity in cats and dogs that is based on information from the Association for Pet Obesity Prevention. I was really surprised to learn that 54% of pet cats and dogs are considered overweight or obese. What was really interesting though, was…

A new study supports the hypothesis that noises from maritime traffic actually do induce stress in whales. For a time after the attack of the Twin Towers in New York City, fewer ships traveled in the area and researchers noticed that the stress levels of whales dropped dramatically. In an article from Discovery News, it…

As many people know, snakes do not need to eat very often. What I just learned from a recent article in Science magazine is that for Burmese pythons, many organs actually increase in mass after eating a large meal and blood levels of fatty acids are substantially elevated. Riquelme et al, were interested in what…

Why zebras have stripes

Image: Wikimedia Commons The most recent issue of The Journal of Experimental Biology provides insight into why zebras have evolved stripes. Using a horse model, researchers have shown that horseflies find zebra stripes less attractive than homogeneous colors. It turns out that horseflies are attracted to linearly polarized light whereas the pattern of wide black…

The image above shows a mummified ibis from ancient Egypt that was packed with snails after death. Other mummified ibises were found packed full of grains or small fish. These findings are the first evidence that the ancient Egyptians provided these birds with food for the afterlife. To read more and see the amazing images,…

Talk about jumbo shrimp!

Check out this new species of shrimp-like amphipods that was discovered in an ocean trench off the coast of New Zealand! The biggest one found was 11 inches long. Yum… Image: National Geographic While reading this article, I could not resist the enticing advertisement for an even larger shrimp-like creature (over 3 feet!) that lived…