Dr. Dolittle

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…

Will bees save us from baldness?

  Propolis is a resin-like compound honeybees collect to coat their hives. New research suggests that this compound may increase hair growth as observed in studies of mice. Although the researchers did not test propolis on balding mice, they did find faster hair growth in mice that had been shaved or waxed, which is somewhat…

New research from Vanderbilt University shows that hummingbirds and insects have a lot in common…when it comes to flying at least. The researchers placed nontoxic paint on the wing of a ruby-throated hummingbird at 9 different spots then videotaped the animal flying at 1,000 frames per second with 4 cameras simultaneously. Using 3D simulations of…