Dr. Dolittle

Dr. Thane Wibbels (University of Alabama at Birmingham) is interested in studying how temperature affects the sex of red-eared slider turtle embryos. For humans, the answer is simple: sex chromosomes. You know, the combination of XX means girl and XY means boy. Turtles are not that simple. Temperature is a factor in determining whether the…

Sex differences in sleep apnea

I came across an interesting study published last month in American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology on obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), which is a disorder in which the upper airway is repeatedly obstructed during sleep resulting in bouts of intermittent hypoxia (low oxygen concentrations). I had no idea that OSA is…

Flying over the Himalayas

I listened to a really interesting story on NPR this morning about new discoveries regarding the flight patterns of bar-headed geese. These birds are known for their incredible ability to fly over the Himalayas on their annual migration to central Asia. Until now, it was often assumed that the birds reached a specific altitude and then simply…

Cleanliness saves hives

Varroa mites can be highly destructive to bee colonies and are a big concern for beekeepers. They get inside honeycombs where they lay eggs and feed on the bee pupae. When the adult bees are released from their cells, so are the mites, which then go on to lay more eggs. Bees that live with…

Few fish can survive the immense pressure of living in the deep sea. The Mariana Trench can reach around 36,200 feet deep with pressures of over 1,000 atmosphere. Scientists have placed landers at various depths ranging from 16,400-34,750 feet along the walls of the trench and have discovered what appears to be the “World’s Deepest…

A new species of frog (Limnonectes larvaepartus) has been discovered in the rain forest of Sulawesi island in Indonesia. This species challenges the grade-school wisdom that taught us: ‘frogs lay eggs’. It looks like textbooks will need to be revised as this is the only known exception to that rule. Study author Dr. Jimmy McGuire (University…

Research has suggested that llamas may pack a powerful punch against HIV. This is because they not only have conventional heavy and light chain antibodies like those found in humans, they also have heavy chain-only antibodies as shown below. These so-called “llama antibodies” are smaller than the conventional antibodies found in humans. This helps the…

Scientists have now determined the complete mitochondrial genome sequence of Aoluguya reindeer (Rangifer tarandus). I wonder if the sequence will hold any more clues as to why Rudolph’s nose is so red and bright. Although according to this prior blog entry perhaps it was the other 8 reindeer who were different… Source: Ju Y, Liu H, Rong M,…

Can you hear me now?

New research shows that pearlfish (Onuxodon fowleri) not only reside in black-lip pearl oyster shells, they also use the shells to amplify sounds created by vibrating their swimbladders. According to lead study author Dr. Loic Kéver, “amplification probably improves the efficiency of communication by increasing the propagation distance of the sounds.” Following high resolution CT scans,…

Life under Arctic ice

Ever wonder what lies beneath the polar ice? Turns out several researchers did as well. This past July a team of scientists led an expedition designed to image life under sea ice. The video below was captured with the Nereid Under Ice (NUI) vehicle and shows brown algae living on the bottom of sea ice…