Life Science

Category archives for Life Science

Researchers are spending a lot of time exploring how the microbes living in our guts impact our health. In a new study published in Cell Reports, researchers wanted to know how the gut microbes of wild brown bears changes between summer and hibernation. They discovered that during the summer, the microbial species present in the gut are…

Beware of freezing hearts

Thirteen-lined ground squirrels (Ictidomys tridecemlineatus) are really cute when they hibernate (above). During torpor bouts, their body temperature decreases to a few degrees Celsius and their metabolism drops by as much as 95% with heart rates ranging from only 3-10 beats per minute. These bouts of torpor are interrupted by periodic arousals every couple of weeks during which their…

Oh rats!

As I was perusing YouTube I came across a video from National Geographic that I must admit was fascinating while at the same time disturbing. The video describes how rats are able to travel from the sewer into your toilet. Although this is reportedly an uncommon occurence, I will be sure to look before I…

Learning new songs

New research shows that premotor neurons are activated in the brains of adolescent male zebra finches whenever a young bird hears their father (a tutor) sing. These are the same neurons that are usually activated in anticipation of movement. What is special about this, is that as the birds learned new songs or pieces of new songs,…

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…