Life Science

Category archives for Life Science

What’s new in Puerto Rico

The Puerto Rico Physiological Society held their 6th annual meeting at the University of Puerto Rico this past Friday February 12th. The theme of the meeting was “Pathophysiological Mechanisms of Stress: From Cells to Organisms.” While the meeting did not feature much of what would be considered comparative physiology, there were several really good talks…

Decompression sickness

Animals exposed to military sonar are thought to develop symptoms similar to decompression sickness. Since microparticles in the blood are known to increase with decompression sickness in diving land animals, researchers explored whether levels were also increased in Steller sea lions (Eumetopias jubatus), that similarly hold their breath while diving. Microparticles are fragments of cell membranes. The…

New research published in Biology Letters suggests that, similar to dogs, horses may understand our facial expressions. In a quote published in Discovery News, study author Amy Smith (University of Sussex) said, “It’s possible that horses developed this ability during their 6,000-year co-evolution with humans, or indeed that individual horses learn it during their lifetimes.”…

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…