Archives for August, 2012

Get Involved in Tracking Sharks

Dr. Barbara Block from Stanford University, a well-known comparative physiologist and member of The American Physiological Society, has been in the news recently for her work tracking sharks. She has spent her career studying the physiology and migratory habits of ocean wildlife. In a prior blog, I talked about her work tracking bluefin tuna and…

Venezuelan poodle moth and others

I was browsing through The Scientist and came across this image of a Venezuelan poodle moth that I could not resist sharing: Image by: Arthur Anker on flickr   What is interesting about this particular moth is that scientists are currently trying to figure out exactly what type of moth it is (its phylogeny). Needless to…

Update on the Genome 10K Project

In a prior post, we talked about the ambitious Genome 10K project. The goal of the project is to sequence the genome of 10,000 species of vertebrates (~1 species from every genus). I was very excited to see the website recently updated in July to include numerous additional species for which the genome has been or…

Aphids generate energy

Red pea aphids (Acyrthosiphon pisum); Figure from: Valmalette et al., 2012 In 2010, scientists at the University of Arizona showed that aphids can produce their own carotene. No other animals are known to produce this important antioxidant and must therefore obtain it from their diets. Aphids apparently acquired this ability to produce carotenoids from a fungal…

Snakes and Ebola

In 2009, scientists at the California Academy of Sciences Steinhart Aquarium discovered some of the snakes suffering from a strange illness that caused them to stare off into space, appear like they were drunk and even tie themselves into knots they could not escape. Other serious symptoms included the buildup of proteins, susceptibility to secondary bacterial infections and body wasting.…

Studies of guppies show that bigger brains may mean “smarter” fish, but less offspring. Credit: Marrabbio2/Creative Commons   …at least for guppies. Dr. Alexander Kotrschal and colleagues at Uppsala University (Sweden) either shrank or grew the brains of guppies over multiple generations to create animals with up to 8-10% variations in brain size. To test for “smartness” they had…

Fastest animals

  In honor of the Olympic games, Scientific American has put together a slide show of the fastest animals in the world, like the peregrine falcon shown in the picture above that has been recorded diving at speeds of 115 mph! The slide show is definitely a must-see! To check out the show, click here.…

Researchers Sanchez et al. from the Gladstone Institute, University of California San Franciso and Washington University School of Medicine discovered that an FDA-approved anti-convulsant medication used to treat epilepsy (levetiracetam) can also reverse memory loss in addition to reducing other Alzheimer’s related symptoms in a mouse model of the disease. Alzheimer’s is currently the most common form of…

New rabies vaccine: vampire bats?

Researchers have discovered six people living in remote areas of Peru (Truenococha and Santa Marta) with natural antibodies against rabies despite never having received a vaccination for this deadly virus. They hypothesize that vampire bats actually transmitted small doses of the virus to people over time creating the natural antibodies. All six individuals reported having been exposed to the…

…you receive comments from reviewers stating that your “research is interesting, but what does it have to do with people?” Clearly these reviewers have not been reading this blog or they would know that many of the findings in animals have the potential to benefit humans although some findings really are destined to only benefit…