Life Lines

Dr. Dolittle

Gray’s paradox was originated by the zoologist James Gray in 1936 (J. Exp. Biol. 13: 192–199, 1936). The paradox questioned how a dolphin is able to swim fast (~10.1 meters per second according to his calculations) with what he saw as a limited ability to generate that much power. Therefore, he concluded that dolphins must have…

An river otter was captured on camera taking on an juvenile alligator…and winning. The battle took place at the Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge in Florida in 2011. More images can be seen on their Facebook page where the images were recently posted, impressive! According to National Geographic, the normal diet of a river otter consists of…

The evolutionary capacitor

Heat shock protein 90 (HSP90) helps keep proteins in the body folded properly and is thought to compensate for variations that occur in proteins over time. In a study published in Science magazine, Dr. Nicolas Rohner and colleagues showed that stress can affect the ability for HSP90 to do its job thereby unmasking these alternative…

Ten new species of snails in the genus Plectostoma have been discovered in the limestone hills of Southeast Asia. Limestone hills are not common in this region, so the individual snail species are often isolated to just one hill. Therefore mining has threatened their existence and several species are already extinct or endangered. Source: LiveScience

Frog songs attract bats

Check out this neat video highlighting how frog-eating bats are using frog mating calls to know where to pick up dinner:

I just read a really neat study from researchers at Texas A&M University. While admittedly this is not comparative physiology, it was just too interesting not to share. In a study published in the Journal of Nutritional Biochemistry, Dr. Luis Cisneros-Zevallos and colleagues found that administering peach extract to mice inhibited the metastasis (i.e. spread)…

Epilepsy in sea lions

According to a press release from Stanford University, California sea lions develop epilepsy from exposure to a toxin produced by algae called domoic acid. The animals develop seizures which can result in memory loss, tremors, convulsions and even death. The hippocampal region in the brain of the affected sea lions shows similar damage as humans…

Snails to the rescue!

Here I thought snails were just cute little creatures that liked to dine in my vegetable garden. You can imagine my surprise to learn there are also carnivorous snails….with venom. New research shows that conotoxin, isolated from cone snail venom, can numb pain. Conotoxin is also reportedly 100 times more potent than morphine at treating…

Only mammals express RAGE

RAGE stands for “receptor for advanced glycation end-products”, also known as “AGER”, and new research shows that it first appeared in mammals (Sessa et al., 2014). Despite the name, the receptor also binds other signaling molecules such as HMGB1, S100 proteins, beta-amyloid, phosphatidylserine, among others (Xie et al., 2013). RAGE is reportedly involved in diabetes,…

This adorable baby gorilla was born through emergency c-section at the San Diego Zoo Safari Park, a procedure that is not commonly performed in animals. She weighed in at 4.6 pounds. Her mother went into labor Wednesday morning but showed no progress by evening, necessitating the c-section. The baby gorilla remains in intensive care after…