Life Lines

Archives for July, 2013

A drug currently used to treat colon cancer in people successfully treated a type of brain tumor, called a glioma, in a dog named “Petey”. After removing the tumor, Dr. Simon Platt administered the drug to the brain where it prevented the tumor from returning. The next step is to conduct a larger study that…

Watch out for those flies!

A fly landing in the ear of a tourist visiting Peru turns out to be more than just annoying. The screwworm fly had sufficient time to lay eggs that hatched flesh-eating maggots in her ear canal. Warning: the video may be disturbing to some viewers As strange as this sounds, it is not that uncommon…

The light of death

Dr. Gems, University College London, and colleagues  were studying aging using nematode worms. They discovered that dying nematode worms emit a wave of blue light from dying cells. It was previously thought that damaged components of aging cells collect in lysosomes forming what they call lipofuscin, which fluoresces. His team refuted that long-held belief and…

    Researchers have designed a computer program that can identify an individual wolf in the wild analyzing the frequency and amplitude of their howls. They were able to accurately identify an individual Eastern grey wolf (Canis lupus lycaon) with 97% accuracy using the program. This program is expected to be highly useful to wolf biologists and…

  A new study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences provides evidence that bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) use “signature whistles” to identify and call each other by “name”.   Dr. Vincent Janik at the Scottish Oceans Institute, University of St. Andrews and colleagues recorded the individual whistles of wild bottlenose dolphins traveling…

Weimaraner dogs are helping researchers to understand neural tube birth defects, like anencephaly (where the brain or skull do not fully develop) and spina bifida (where the spinal column is not fully enclosed). In new research published this week in PLOS One, Dr. Noa Safra (UC Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine) and colleagues mapped the genomes of…

In search of the loneliest whale

According to Discovery News, scientists and filmmakers are on the hunt for what people have called the Loneliest Whale in the World. In 1989 William Watkins (Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution) discovered the vocalizations of a whale that were unlike that of any other whale. The vocalizations of the mystery whale were 52 Hertz whereas other whales…

Babies born prematurely are predisposed to necrotizing enterocolitis, in which portions of the intestinal lining dies. Infant formulas are thought to contribute to the development of this disorder in premature babies. This is a serious condition that can lead to death in about 25% of premies. Dr. Sangild (University of Copenhagen) and colleagues have discovered…

Hyenas related to cats?

Ever wonder what dogs and hyenas have in common? Would you be surprised to learn that hyenas are more closely related to cats than dogs? In fact, according to this video thesis, the shared bone-crushing abilities of dogs and hyenas is actually an example of convergent evolution.

Dogs Decoded on now!

I am currently watching a re-run of the NOVA special called Dogs Decoded. If you have not already seen it, you should check it out! It was actually the subjects of a prior blog that you can read here.