Life Lines

Archives for July, 2012

By injecting the eyes of blind mice with a chemical called AAQ, Dr. Richard Kramer and colleagues at UC Berkeley and the University of Washington have found that the animals are able to detect bright light. When these treated mice were exposed to an LED lamp, they actually turned and ran away from the light.…

Not joking. Researchers have managed to take cells from a rat and add them to a silicone layer to form a synthetic jellyfish that moves much like the real thing. The hope is to develop more complex organs that might be used for organ transplants in the future.

A higher than normal mortality rate for bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) in the Gulf of Mexico during 2011 has been found to correspond with the Deepwater Horizon oil spill as well as colder weather conditions during 2010 leading to an influx of colder water into the Gulf from snowmelt. From January through April 2011, 186 bottlenose…

Malaria fighting bacteria

Researchers, Jacobs-Lorena et al., at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health have altered a harmless bacteria (Pantoea agglomerans) naturally found in the midgut of mosquitos to fight malaria by producing and releasing proteins that are toxic to malaria but harmless to mosquitos or humans. Since the gut is where the malaria parasite reproduces,…

Freaks and Creeps

Check out the new TV series on Nat Geo Wild called “Freaks and Creeps.” The host is Lucy Cooke, a National Geographic Explorer and zoologist who trained under Richard Dawkins. In the show, Lucy explores what many would consider unusual animals and tries to figure out why they would be considered freaks or creeps. You…

  Scientists from Wuhan University in China have discovered compounds in scorpion venom that may be the next new treatment for methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) bacteria and potentially other antibiotic-resistant microbes. Specifically, the peptide BmKn2 was isolated from Mesobuthus martensii and modified into another peptide, Kn2-7 which increased the natural antibacterial properties of BmKn2 while at the same time reducing the…

Animal Magnetism – Part II

In a prior blog, we talked about different animals that are able to sense the Earth’s magnetic field. The mystery of how fish, and perhaps other animals, do this may be solved. Animals use the magnetic field like a compass. This is an important skill especially to migratory species who don’t have the benefit of Google…

Dogs prevent asthma?

Recent research has shown that dogs may offer protection from respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a common virus in infants associated with high risks for the development of asthma. Mice fed dust from homes with dogs prior to exposure to RSV showed immunity to the virus when compared to mice fed dust from dog-free homes. Moreover,…

Happy 4th of July!!!

Here is how the animal’s at the Smithsonian Zoo spend the holiday:

CREDIT: © Inna-Marie Strazhnik Smaller than a grain of rice, the world’s tiniest fly (Euryplatea nanaknihali, measuring only 0.4 mm) has been discovered in Thailand. According to the articles, these itty bitty bugs lay their eggs in the body of an ant where they develop and make their way to the head. They devour both the muscles that…