Life Lines

Archives for October, 2013

Just in time for Halloween: Besides being an excellent way to avoid predators, roosting or hanging upside down is optimal for taking off into flight. Bats are not able to launch into flight from an upright position because their wings do not generate sufficient lift while at a dead stop. Additionally, their hindlegs are rather…

The FDA is calling for help to determine the source of roughly 580 deaths and over 3600 illnesses (gastrointestinal and kidney) related to jerky treats that were made in China. The  mystery dates back to 2007 when illnesses were first being reported by pet owners.  Most of the victims have been dogs, although 10 cats…

Using robots to study animal behavior

A recent article published in The Scientist about the use of robots to study animal behavior is a must-read! I had no idea this was such a seemingly common use of robots. Some researchers use them to mimic the movements of ants along paths of least resistance. While others have developed robots to study cockroaches,…

Fabled sea serpents do exist!!

A guide from the Catalina Island Marine Institute discovered the carcass of an oarfish (Regalecus glesne) off the coast of Catalina Island this week. Oarfish are the longest bony fish (reports up to ~50 feet long) in the ocean. Because oarfish live deep in the ocean, there have been limited studies on their physiology or…

Congratulations to Drs. Randy W. Schekman, Thomas C. Südhof and James E. Rothman (above left to right) for earning the 2013 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for their research in “discoveries of machinery regulating vesicle traffic, a major transport system in our cells.” Cells often make products like hormones and neurotransmitters that need to exit…

Tarantula insecticide

  Drs. Glenn King and Maggie Hardy at the Institute of Molecular Bioscience, University of Queensland, Australia have discovered a small protein, aptly named orally active insecticidal peptide-1 (OAIP-1), in the venom of Australian tarantulas (Selenotypus plumipes) that can kill prey when ingested orally. According to the study, OAIP-1 is fast acting and more potent…

An article came out today in Wunderground.com about an iconic bird (in both good and bad ways) in South Africa, the Hadeda Ibis (Bostrychia hagedash). There are stores named after the birds, songs dedicated to them and even a documentary called “Hadeda Sunrise” that you can watch here:

Smart dog breeds

I should have read this article before adopting my beloved pet, who is certainly not on the top 10 list of smart breeds. A cute article from pet360.com published the top 10 smart breeds according to the American Kennel Club: 1. Border collie 2. German Shepherd 3. Bloodhound 4. Beagle 5. Labrador Retriever 6. Newfoundland…

The Poop Pill Cure for C. diff

You may recall a prior post about a dog that could smell when patients were infected with Clostridium difficile. C. difficile causes about 14,000 deaths per year in the United States. Recent breakthroughs in understanding gut microbes have led to the successful treatment of C. difficile  in patients. Fecal transplants, the transfer of feces from a healthy person,…