Archives for March, 2012

“The Peeps Show” For the last several years the Washington Post has sponsored a Peeps Diorama Contest. It’s an opportunity for people to express their creativity using those yellow (or pink) marshmallow candy bunnies and birds that fill grocery store shelves in the weeks leading up to the spring (and other) holidays. One reader tried…

Image Source: msnbc A new species of tiny scorpions, Wernerius inyoensis, has been discovered in Death Valley National Park by PhD student Matthew Graham from the University of Nevada Las Vegas. At 16mm long, the tiny creature is about the length of a thumbnail. He was able to spot the tiny scorpion at night by…

New research shows how mussels find the perfect match. For mussels, fertilization occurs between eggs and sperm that have been released into the water. Up until now, it seemed the pairings were random limiting the ability to choose mates and diminishing the chance for successful fertilization due to genetic mismatches. However, recent research shows that…

New research conducted by Dr. Gary Beauchamp from the Monell Chemical Sciences Center in Philadelphia has shown that seven of twelve species of carnivorous mammals tested lack taste receptors for sweets. According to the article, Dr. Beachamp and his colleagues identified mutations in the mammalian taste receptor for sweets (Tas1r2/Tas1r3) in animals from the Pinnipedia…

Update on the EB 2012 Contest!

Thanks to everyone who sent in their feedback about last week’s post on Top Reasons for Loving Comparative Physiology. It inspired another reader to send along this humorous photo entitled, “Lining Up to Hear A Talk About Comparative Physiology,” alleged to have been taken at last year’s EB meeting. Not exactly hard science, but in…

Image Source: UA News, Brian Curry, Rutgers. It is easy to get lost in a crowd, especially in an area as densely packed as New York. Scientists from UCLA, Rutgers University, UC Davis and The University of Alabama have discovered a new species of frog in just that region! The frogs were found in the…

Update on our Contest!

Thanks to all those who have been sending their ideas about why they like comparative physiology. Two non-science students sent me a list this week with the reasons they think comparative physiology is interesting. Do they deserve a Dolittle t-shirt? At least for “originality”? Animals and their adaptations (or maladaptations in some cases) offer insight…

A new test for tuberculosis?

Image Source: The Scientist, Robert Lamberts NZPFR. Dr. Stephen Chambers from the University of Otago, New Zealand successfully isolated volatile chemicals produced by cultured tuberculosis bacteria (Mycobacterium tuberculosis). Testing the breath of infected humans, he was also able to identify nicotinic acid, which was one of the volatile chemicals released by the cultured bacteria (as…

Discovered: New shark species

Image Credit: California Academy of Sciences At just over 1 foot long, this newly discovered species of shark (Bythaelurus giddingsi) is not likely to be featured in a remake of “Jaws”. The sharks were seen at depths over 1000 feet off the coast of the Galapagos Islands and belong to the catshark family. Seven specimens…

Using horses to study asthma

Image source: Burlington Equine Veterinary Services, LLC. Talk about comparative physiology! Some older horses develop a condition called equine heaves, which is similar to asthma in humans. Horses that live in more humid environments that promote mold growth are more prone to the disorder than horses that have lived in dry environments. It is also…