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Cure to fear of cats discovered

…for rodents and men at least. A team of researchers at UC Berkeley have discovered that mice infected with the parasite Toxoplasma gondii lose their innate fear of cats, even months after the infection is cleared. In fact, infected mice were mildly attracted to the odor of cats. This side effect likely evolved because the parasite…

Why dentists may have rats to thank

  What does tooth decay have to do with rats? For Neandertals, tooth decay was a rare occurance. Research suggests that tooth decay became more prominent with the development of agriculture. Dr. Ordaz, Stanford School of Medicine, and colleagues analyzed common strains of bacteria (Streptococcus mutans) responsible for causing cavities. They found that the bacteria began expanding exponentially around 10,000…

Not joking. Researchers have managed to take cells from a rat and add them to a silicone layer to form a synthetic jellyfish that moves much like the real thing. The hope is to develop more complex organs that might be used for organ transplants in the future.

What’s so funny?

In this video, Dr. Jaak Panksepp describes how he discovered that rats apparently laugh, producing an ultrasonic sound which more resembles chirping than laughter as we typically think of it: Further research by Dr. Panksepp has shown that young rats tend to be more ticklish that older rats and that “laughter” ceases when the animals…

Empathetic Rats?

I find myself wondering why a rat would choose to liberate a cagemate when they have the opportunity to enjoy a goldmine of chocolates if they would just leave the other rat locked up.  Dr. Peggy Mason, a neuroscientist, and psychologists Inbal Ben-Ami Bartal and Jean Decety conducted a study in which they placed pairs of rats…