Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

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Extreme Animals

Blood flow shifts during diving

In many mammals exposure to hypoxic conditions results in the release of a vasodilator called nitric oxide, which improves blood flow and protects oxygen delivery to tissues throughout the body. Diving animals appear to be unique in that some of their blood vessels stay constricted while they are diving even though they experience hypoxia. A new study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology explored […]

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Working towards prolonged spaceflight

Spaceflight has always fascinated me. While long distance spaceflight looks so routine in science fiction shows, the reality is much different as we have yet to conquer the complications surrounding long duration deep-space flight. One issue is how to feed astronauts traveling long distances as we do not yet have replicator technologies. If we did, I would have coffee whenever I wanted it. In a new article published in Physiology, […]

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Highlights from the last day in Orlando

Today marked the final day of the 2019 Experimental Biology meeting in Orlando. As usual it was a great day for Physiology. Crupi et al., from the University of Messina and the Universita della Magna Grecia in Italy put up a poster presentation describing their research on how red blood cells respond to environmental toxins. Their research showed that isolated red blood cells from rabbits are more sensitive to venoms […]

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Highlights from EB 2019

There were so many poster presentations on comparative and evolutionary physiology today at the 2019 Experimental Biology conference that it was impossible to see them all. Here are some highlights: Dr. Michael Hedrick from California State University – East Bay, presented his research on African cheetahs (Acinonyx jubatus) examining adaptations that cheetahs have evolved to supply their muscles with oxygen so efficiently, given they maintain the world record for being […]

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Dietary carotenoids and oxidative stress- What can we learn from birds?

Congratulations to this year’s Dr. Dolittle Travel Award winner, Alex Mohr from Arizona State University! Alex is presenting his research at the annual Experimental Biology conference in Orlando, FL (Mohr AE, Girard M, Rowe M, McGraw KJ, Sweazea KL. Varied Effects of Dietary Carotenoid Supplementation on Oxidative Damage in Tissues of Two Waterfowl Species).  Here is his award-winning blog entry describing his research on carotenoids in ducks: In relation to tissue […]

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How ground squirrels recycle nitrogen

Hibernation is a rather remarkable strategy some animals use to survive winter when food availability is limited. Dr. Matthew Regan, a postdoctoral fellow in the laboratory of Dr. Hannah Carey at the University of Wisconsin in Madison, presented research at the Experimental Biology 2019 conference today that explored how 13-lined ground squirrels (Ictidomys tridecemlineatus) regulate protein metabolism during hibernation. What is remarkable about 13-lined ground squirrels in particular is that they […]

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PUFAs change muscle characteristics in a migratory bird without improving flight performance

Migratory birds are undoubtedly endurance athletes. In fact, their flights last hours to days. Could you imagine? But, unlike mammals that fuel endurance exercise by burning carbohydrates, birds fuel their endurance flights with fat. In a new study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology, researchers were curious about whether the TYPE of dietary fat used to fuel endurance exercise was important. To examine this […]

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Don’t let that cute little face fool you…

This is not your Grandmother’s cat. Despite its seemingly domesticated look, this cute feline is a fierce hunter. Black-footed cats are the smallest wild felines in Africa coming in at only 14-20 inches long, 8 inches in height and weighing only 2-6 pounds. They are also considered the deadliest feline on Earth. Say what??? Turns out this Napoleonic cat is known for killing more prey in one night (10-14 rodents […]

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Alligator snorkeling

I read an interesting article in Live Science about a unique way a group of American alligators use to survive periods of freezing water, for a few days at least. As the temperature drops, the animals stick their nose out of the water and are thus able to breathe through the ice. During cold months the alligators also reduce their metabolism, a process called brumation, which is different from hibernation […]

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Watch out T Rex…

Researchers used supercomputers in a new study to see who had the toughest bite…the winner? ….drumroll… the finch! By examining bite force and body mass, researchers found that if finches were the same size as a T Rex, their bite would be 320 times stronger than the ancient dinosaur’s bite. In fact, finches evolved amazing bite strength given their small body size. Source: Live Science  

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