Life Science

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Category archives for Life Science

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…

Research published last month in PNAS provides evidence that African elephants (Loxodonta africana) can differentiate human voices. This is a very important skill to an animal that is often threatened by humans. Prior research has shown that elephants could tell the difference between African ethnic groups using sight and scent. The study was conducted by…

New discovery about dog eyes

I came across this really interesting press release from the University of Pennsylvania that I just had to share. Despite having a close relationship with dogs for thousands of years, we are still making new discoveries about our canine friends. Drs. William Beltran (School of Veterinary Medicine), Artur Cideciyan (Perelman School of Medicine), and colleagues…

A shark’s perspective

Dr. Carl Meyer (University of Hawaii) and Dr. Katsufumi Sato (University of Tokyo) have teamed up to gather data about shark behavior in a rather interesting way. They flipped the animals upside down, which makes them relax, and strapped on cameras and instruments that will facilitate the creation of 3D models of shark movements. Using…

Researchers at Duke University are interested in understanding the metamorphosis of fruit flies from larvae to adult stage in an effort to understand how the insects grow new nerve endings as they undergo this transition. What is interesting is that the flies lose neurons they will not need as an adult and will grow new…

Congratulations to Nicolle Domnik, this year’s winner of the new Dr. Dolittle Travel Award to present her research at the annual Experimental Biology conference in San Diego, CA in April. Nicolle is currently a graduate student in the Department of Biomedical and Molecular Sciences at Queen’s University in Canada. The award criteria included the submission…

A paper published in Current Biology describes research using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to compare the sound processing regions of brains in humans and dogs (border collies and golden retrievers). The subjects listened to almost 300 sounds (vocalizations from dogs and humans as well as non-vocal sounds) or no sound as a control. They…

The bonobo beat

Researchers have observed that bonobos are innately able to match a beat that was created by the research team. The bonobos demonstrated their musical skills using a special drum that was created to withstand 500 pounds of pressure, chewing, etc. The favored tempo matched the cadence of human speech, about 280 beats per minute. The…