Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

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Archive for July 2018

New study shows mussels are “hot and bothered”

Freshwater organisms are especially vulnerable to environmental changes as they are exposed to both atmospheric changes as well as run-off from nearby cities; in particular, rising temperatures and increasing carbon dioxide levels from both natural factors (rainfall, geology, etc) as well as human influence (deforestatin, agriculture, urbanization). For example, studies of rivers around the world have found that carbon dioxide levels vary from 647 – 38,000 µatm. Higher levels are […]

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What your pets really like to eat

Although dogs and cats are both carnivores, they have surprisingly different appetites for food. In a study published last month, researchers at Oregon State University examined what our beloved pets really like to eat. Their results, published last month in the Journal of Experimental Biology, were rather surprising: dogs showed preference towards foods high in fats (41% fat, 36% carbohydrates) whereas cats preferred foods high in carbohydrates (43% carbohydrates, 30% proteins). […]

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Extreme fasting

  Northern Elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris) are pretty extreme animals, at least when it comes to fasting. Pups nurse for about 1 month, during which time they greatly increase their body fat. After nursing, they typically fast for up to 3 months. A new study was designed to explore how their adipose (fat) tissue changes after this prolonged fast. Researchers at the University of California at Merced were able to […]

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Ants ‘nurse’ their injured

A study conducted at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland shows that Matabele ants, Megaponera analis, lick wounds their comrades sustain while hunting termites. It is thought that this “nurse”-like behavior may help prevent infection as ants receiving such care are more likely to survive: Sources: Youtube / New Scientist Frank ET, Wehrhahn M, Linsenmair KE. Wound treatment and selective help in a termite-hunting ant. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2017.2457  

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Personal space neurons

Do you ever get an annoying feeling when people invade your personal space? Or move without even thinking about it when something is suddenly coming at you? Turns out, we really do live in our own bubbles and we have special neurons, called peripersonal neurons, that are responsible for sensing that space and sending feedback to our brains. It is thought that these neurons are important for sensing approaching dangers […]

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Human Echolocation

Bats and dolphins are famous for using echolocation to help navigate their surroundings. In contrast, humans normally rely on vision to navigate. When vision is impaired, however, we can learn to rely on echolocation. Although it is rare to find people who rely solely on hearing:

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