Archives for December, 2015

Top 10 Newly Discovered Species of 2015

As 2015 comes to an end, I always love to review the top newly named species of the year. Here are the top 10 (in alphabetical order) as determined by an international taxonomist committee: LOVE the cartwheeling spider!! Source: State University of New York, College of Environmental Science and Forestry (ESF).

Reduced heart function with low oxygen

“Drosophila melanogaster – side (aka)” by André Karwath aka Aka – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.5 via Wikimedia Commons –   Researchers at the University of California at San Diego were interested in understanding how exposure to low oxygen concentrations impact heart function. For humans low oxygen delivery to the heart can occur…

According to the Linus Pauling Institute at Oregon State University, folate (which includes folates from food and folic acid supplements) is important for amino acid metabolism and methylation reactions in the body. Anyone who has had a baby knows that folic acid is an important nutrient to prevent the birth defect spina bifida. Folate and vitamin…

Man’s best…empathizer?

If you own a dog you may agree that it seems as if they understand our feelings. While some may call this anthropomorphizing, you know ascribing human emotions to animals, new research may vindicate the feelings of many pet owners. A study recently published in Royal Society Open Science provides evidence to suggest that dogs can mimic the emotional state…

Polar bears vs Grizzly bears

I read an interesting article in the Alaska Dispatch News which examined interactions between arctic grizzly bears and polar bears. They found that although polar bears are larger, they tend to leave food sources when grizzly bears are around. This may be because polar bears typically spend a lot of time on sea ice without the need to…

Parrot Pharmacists

Researchers from the University of York and the University of St. Andrews in the United Kingdom observed greater vasa parrots (Coracopsis vasa) using pebbles and date pits to extract a fine calcium powder from seashells that they would then lick off the shell. Their observations were published in Biology Letters. The birds were in essence creating their…

“Lethal milk”

Zinc deficiency is sometimes diagnosed in infants who are exclusively breast-fed. It can occur because of a dysfunctional zinc transporter in the mother, which prevents zinc from being secreted into the breast milk through a special zinc transporter in the epithelial cells of the mammary gland (Chowanadisai et al., 2006). It could also be inherited.…

Training pigeons to detect cancer

You are probably thinking, whose bird-brained idea was that? Well, as it turns out, a new study published in PLOS ONE shows that pigeons can be trained to accurately differentiate cancerous versus healthy tissue biopsies. This is because the process of diagnosing cancer involves visual screening of MRIs an biopsies and pigeons use similar visual processing…

A new study published in PLOS ONE that examined bitter taste receptors in cats may provide evidence as to why felines are such finicky eaters. Unlike my cat that seems to take after Garfield in his dietary choices, most cats are purely carnivorous. Cats are reportedly unable to taste sweets thus plant-based starches are not…