Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

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Extreme Animals

Arizona Physiological Society’s annual conference: Part 2

Arizona’s physiologists met in October to talk about Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, urbanization, the evolution of walking and vocalizations, snow leopards, and diet. Here are the highlights… Oral Presentations: Graduate student Luke Endicott from the Arizona College of Medicine at Midwestern University, working with R. Potter and Dr. C.R. Olson presented their research exploring how zebra finches learn to sing and the importance of vitamin A in this process. Does […]

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Now featuring: Arizona Physiological Society

Now featuring the Arizona Physiological Society, who held their annual meeting October 29-30. In attendance were students, postdocs, and faculty from the Downtown, Tempe and West campuses of Arizona State University, AT Still University, Glendale University, Midwestern University, Northern Arizona University, as well as the Phoenix and Tucson campuses of the University of Arizona. The Keynote Address was given by Dr. William Karasov, from the University of Wisconsin Department of […]

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Featuring: Missouri Physiological Society

The Missouri Physiological Society held their virtual annual meeting on Saturday October 16th. Membership in the society includes high school, undergraduate and graduate students, teachers, scientists, and science policy administrators/advocates in the state of Missouri. Highlights from the Oral Presentations: The Keynote Address was given by Dr. John Hall, Arthur C. Guyton Professor and Chair of Physiology and Biophysics as well as Founding Director of the Mississippi Center for Obesity […]

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Snoring seals can teach us so much about sleep apnea

When I think of sleep apnea, the first thing that comes to mind is snoring. People, and animals, that have sleep apnea periodically stop breathing when they are sleeping and wake up when their brain senses the drop in oxygen. Understandably, people with sleep apnea often feel tired and have difficulty concentrating. Just imagine having your sleep interrupted night after night. Because of the changes in blood oxygen, people with […]

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Extreme Diet: The blood thirsty vampire bat

Just in time for Halloween: I came across a preprint in bioRxiv that identified 13 genes missing from vampire bats (Desmodus rotundus), but found in other bat species. Animals that drink blood, or sanguivores, have to deal with a diet that is high in protein but typically lower in fat and sugar. Many of the missing genes are thought to be related to their ability to drink blood and obtain […]

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Now there’s an endurance athlete:

With the Beijing 2022 Olympics quickly approaching, I thought it would be fun to showcase some extreme animals. Take the Arctic tern (above), for example. These birds hold the record for longest migration. Terns are born during the summer in the Arctic circle and travel all the way to the Antarctic circle every year to spend the summer – a distance of ~30,000 km, talk about a marathon! For comparison, […]

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Featuring: Ohio Physiological Society, Part 2

Here are some additional highlights from the 35th annual Ohio Physiological Society conference… Elizabeth Evans (Graduate Student, University of Dayton), Dr. David Goldstein (Wright State University), and Dr. Carissa Krane (University of Dayton) presented research examining the effects of multiple freeze-thaw cycles on Cope’s Gray treefrogs (Dryophytes chrysoscelis). Yes, that’s right, I said freeze-thaw cycles. These freeze tolerant animals build up glycerol in their bodies to help survive seasonal conditions […]

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Birds may stay warm with the help of red blood cells

Researchers at Lund University in Sweden were interested in understanding how birds adapted to cold weather. Birds can’t turn up the heat in their birdhouse, so it is important for them to find physiological ways to stay warm. While they can store body fat and grow more feathers for insulation, metabolism is the primary way endothermic animals create body heat. Mitochondria produce cellular energy (ATP) but can also create heat […]

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Tenrecs may shed light on the evolution of body temperature regulation

The common tenrec (Tenrec ecaudatus) just may be a living representative of ancestral placental mammals and they are very interesting when it comes to body temperature regulation and torpor. Torpor is a complex series of physiological changes that reduce an animal’s physical activity as well as heart, breathing and metabolic rates, which also results in decreases in body temperature than can be as low as their surrounding environment. Many mammalian […]

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Oddity of mammalian red blood cells

Mammalian red blood cells do not have a nucleus, which is different from birds, amphibians, reptiles, and fish (see image above). Many textbooks report that the absence of a nucleus provides room for more hemoglobin within the cells, which is important to fuel the relatively high metabolic rates of mammals. Hemoglobin is an important oxygen-binding molecule that allows the red blood cells to transport oxygen to tissues throughout the body […]

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