Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

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Diet and Exercise

First ever recording of heart rate in free swimming blue whales

While we are on the topic of whales, I found additional research published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA on these animals and how their hearts function that I find fascinating. Talk about extreme physiology! Researchers from Stanford University were able to attach surface electrodes to blue whales using suction cups. This allowed them to measure – for the first time – how heart rate changes during […]

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Researchers explore how the largest animals get enough to eat

Ever wonder how baleen whales (Mysticeta) get enough to eat? The mechanism is described for rorqual whales (Balaenopteridae) in a review article published this past October in Physiology. Researchers have found that rorqual whales (ex: blue whales and fin whales), in particular, have an interesting strategy for foraging. The process includes 5 steps that take place in rapid succession (about 20-90 sec total): quick forward lunges toward prey; opening their […]

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Low-calorie sweeteners – harmful or hype?

Researchers at Columbia University wanted to examine whether low-calorie sweeteners disrupt glucose tolerance as there are conflicting reports in both human and animal studies. Their results examining the link between low-calorie sweeteners and glucose regulation in mice are published in the upcoming issue of the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology. In their first experiment, the research team found no differences in glucose tolerance or body […]

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Importance of feeding chicks shortly after hatching

While egg yolks are rich in lipids, chicks consume mainly carbohydrates after hatching. This ability to switch between using nutrients provided by the mother in the egg and those the chick must acquire from the environment is important for the normal growth and metabolism of the birds after hatching. Delayed access to foods after hatching can therefore have long term effects on the animals. Transport of animals from hatcheries to […]

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Researchers explore why fetuses that experienced intrauterine growth restriction have smaller muscles

We have talked several times about the long-lasting issues related to growth restriction of a fetus during pregnancy: Intrauterine growth restriction increases risk of cardiovascular disease as adults Intrauterine growth restriction increases risk of insulin resistance as adults It can also result in offspring that have smaller muscles. New research published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology suggests this may be due to adaptations to […]

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Final highlights from the 2019 Arizona Physiological Society conference

Here are some additional comparative physiology highlights from the 2019 Arizona Physiological Society poster session: Researchers at Arizona State University compared the physiology of Gambel’s quail (Callipepla gambelii) living in urbanized and less developed areas. They found that birds living in more urbanized areas were larger and had more circulating lipids than birds living in areas that were less developed. (A Funk, P Hutton, S Earl, P Deviche, and K Sweazea. […]

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Ohio talks about physiology and disease

Researchers from around the state of Ohio met today at the 34th annual Ohio Physiological Society meeting to discuss their research. Although many of the presentations were not on comparative physiology topics, I found some particularly interesting and thought I would share them with you anyway. Here goes: Dr. Katherine Vest and her research team (Kierra Ware, Yu Zhang, Thomas Whitlow) from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine presented their research on […]

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