Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Extreme Animals

Beware of freezing hearts

Thirteen-lined ground squirrels (Ictidomys tridecemlineatus) are really cute when they hibernate (above). During torpor bouts, their body temperature decreases to a few degrees Celsius and their metabolism drops by as much as 95% with heart rates ranging from only 3-10 beats per minute. These bouts of torpor are interrupted by periodic arousals every couple of weeks during which their metabolism increases as body temperature elevates to 37 degrees Celsius. What is so fascinating is […]

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The amazing cockroach

Testing the bite force of American cockroaches. Image from: Tom Weihmann | University of Cambridge I’ll admit I get a bit squeamish when I see a cockroach. However, after reading new research about the “ew” inspiring creatures, I have a bit more respect for them. Not only can these bugs run vertically up walls, survive nuclear war and live without their head for weeks (thus I suggest squishing the whole body), new […]

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The seal of enigma!

I am excited to present this guest blog from Bridget Martinez, graduate student from the University of California, Merced. She has been studying elephant seals in the laboratory of Dr. Rudy Ortiz. She had presented her research at the 2015 Experimental Biology conference in Boston, MA which was mentioned in a prior blog . Here is her description of her research: Bridget Martinez, Graduate Student, University of California – Merced […]

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T. Rex – Just a ‘big angry chicken’?

If you have not already had a chance to see it, the T. Rex Autopsy airing on the National Geographic channel is a must-see! They literally created a model of T. Rex based on available evidence about T. Rex and other dinosaurs as well as evidence from modern birds and then performed an “autopsy”. The conclusion: T. Rex was basically a ‘big angry chicken’ – Love it!! It will be airing again […]

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I never knew otters were THAT tough…

A river otter was captured on camera taking on an juvenile alligator…and winning. The battle took place at the Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge in Florida in 2011. More images can be seen on their Facebook page where the images were recently posted, impressive! According to National Geographic, the normal diet of a river otter consists of birds, small rodents, frogs, turtles, crabs, and fish. Let’s just add juvenile alligators to the […]

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Great white shark longevity

Scientists have discovered that great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) actually live longer than previously thought (up to 23 years or so). Using radiocarbon age estimates, Dr. Hamady and colleagues at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution determined the animals can live to the ripe-old-age of 70+ years. These findings mean that great white sharks, like humans, may take longer to mature. It also means that overfishing may pose more of a threat […]

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Ever wonder why bats sleep upside down?

Just in time for Halloween: Besides being an excellent way to avoid predators, roosting or hanging upside down is optimal for taking off into flight. Bats are not able to launch into flight from an upright position because their wings do not generate sufficient lift while at a dead stop. Additionally, their hindlegs are rather underdeveloped, so they are not able to run to generate lift for take-off. Instead, bats […]

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