Life Lines

Dr. Dolittle

Cats beware…

The FDA has issued a warning that Easter lilies are toxic to cats. According to veterinarian Dr. Melanie McLean at the US Food and Drug Administration ingestion of even a small portion of the leaves, pollen or flowers of the plant are very poisonous to cats. Initial complications include vomiting but then may lead to…

Killer sponges

Sounds kind of like an oxymoron doesn’t it? Who knew sponges could be carnivorous? Scientists have described four new species of carnivorous sponges in a newly published article in Zootaxa. Check out this video from the lead author of the study, Lonny Lundsten who is a Senior Research Technician at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research…

Experimental Biology

I am very excited about the upcoming Experimental Biology conference that starts next weekend. I just looked through the Spring newsletter for the Comparative and Evolutionary Physiology section of the American Physiological Society. Check out the exciting programming in comparative physiology at this year’s conference: Monday, April 28 10:30 AM – 12:30 PM Featured Topic: Abstract-Driven Trainee Session…

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…