Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Extreme Animals

Turning up the heat

There are several ways to stay warm on a cold day. If you are human, you can turn up the heat in your home, put on a sweater, snuggle, and even produce body heat through shivering as well as non-shivering metabolic pathways – although the ability to produce heat metabolically typically declines with aging. If you are a small mammal, turning up the heat or putting on a sweater are […]

Continue Reading →

EB 2022: Seals, seals, and more seals

Several posters at EB 2022 in Philadelphia this month were focused on understanding the remarkable physiology of diving seals. Although we may think of the image below when we picture seals, they really are quite the athletes in water. Kaitlin Allen (a graduate student working in the laboratory of Dr. José Pablo Vázquez-Medina at the University of California Berkeley) presented her research on Northern elephant seals and how these animals […]

Continue Reading →

EB2022: Facing Oxygen Challenges

I learned a lot about how animals adapt to changing environmental oxygen levels in the Experimental Biology symposium on “Functional Integration across the Oxygen Cascade in the Face of Challenging Environments.” Here is what I learned… The first presenter, Dr. Lara do Amaral-Silva (postdoctoral fellow at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro working with Dr. Joseph (Joe) Santin), spoke about her research on adaptations in the bullfrog “super-brain” that […]

Continue Reading →

Stranger than science fiction: treefrogs that freeze and live to tell the story

Today we have a guest blog written by Elizabeth Evans (pictured above), a graduate student at the University of Dayton working in the laboratory of Dr. Carissa Krane. She presented her research on freeze tolerance today at the 2022 Experimental Biology conference in Philadelphia. She wrote the award-winning blog entry below which earned the 2022 Dr. Dolittle Travel Award to attend the conference. Congratulations Elizabeth!! Stranger than science fiction: treefrogs […]

Continue Reading →

Hibernation slows down aging

I don’t know about you, but when I see an article claiming to be able to explain “The Biology of Beauty Sleep”, I simply have to read it. Clicking on the title brought me to a news article from the journal Nature Ecology & Evolution that featured a recent study examining the idea of how sleep impacts aging. The burning question of course is whether or not there is any […]

Continue Reading →

Tips to avoiding blood clots and improving blood storage for transfusions

Hibernating mammals are amazing! How in the world do they prevent blood clots when they not only reduce their body temperature but also their blood flow during hibernation? That question is precisely what a new study published in Physiological Genomics examined.   Typically, cold temperatures are known to activate the process of blood clotting by stimulating platelets. Platelets are sticky cells without a nucleus that circulate in the blood. When […]

Continue Reading →

Secrets to rockfish longevity revealed

Rockfish have gained the attention of scientists due to their exceptional longevity. Researchers at the University of California, Berkeley sequenced the complete genome of 88 species of rockfish in the Pacific Ocean to try to find clues that could explain their longevity. While some are rather short-lived (ex: calico rockfish, Sebastes dallii, only live around 10 years), longer-lived species, like rougheye rockfish (Sebastes aleutianus), can live to be over 200 […]

Continue Reading →

Scientists get a glimpse of what makes cephalopods so smart

From walking on land, to solving complex problems, cephalopods continue to amaze us with their intelligence and nervous system development. In a new study published in Current Biology, Dr. Wen-Sung Chung from the University of Queensland Brain Institute and colleagues decided to take a closer look at what makes their brains unique using MRI imaging. Compared to other invertebrates, cephalopods are rather brainy. In fact, some cephalopods have over 500 […]

Continue Reading →

More on the uniqueness of humans when it comes to heart disease…

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, heart-themed items seem to be everywhere. It is no surprise that I started thinking more and more about how humans are unique from other animals when it comes to heart disease. In my last entry, we talked about a few genetic variants that protect some humans from heart disease as well as the observation that many carnivores do not develop atherosclerosis, even when […]

Continue Reading →

And a Happy New….Kidney!

Spiny mice (Acomys cahirinus) are amazing animals. For starters, they are reportedly one of the only known species to date, in addition to primates, that menstruate (McKenna et al., 2021). They are also capable of regenerating skin tissue, complete with hair follicles and blood vessels without scarring, after an injury (Siefert et al., 2012). This is an important skill for animals that escape predators by shedding their skin. Add to […]

Continue Reading →