Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

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Nature’s Solutions

Migratory birds create their own water to prevent dehydration

Migratory birds are amazingly adapted for long-distance flights and can switch the fuels they rely on to support their endurance activities. Unlike humans that burn mainly carbohydrates for endurance exercise, avian flight is fueled mainly by fats and some proteins. In a recent study published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology researchers examined how white-throated sparrows (Zonotrichia albicollis) prepared for migration. By altering the […]

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Arizona physiologists gathered recently for their annual meeting

The Arizona Physiological Society, a chapter of the American Physiological Society, hosted their 15th annual scientific meeting this past weekend! Here are some highlights… The Keynote Address was presented by Dr. Harold D Schultz, Professor in the Department of Cellular and Integrative Physiology at the University of Nebraska. His talk focused on the physiology of heart failure and how the nervous system regulates blood pressure. This year’s Arizona Distinguished Physiologist […]

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Physiology in the Midlands

Fall is an exciting time as many of the chapters of the American Physiological Society host regional conferences. The Midlands Society of Physiological Sciences hosted their annual meeting earlier this month. Here are some highlights from their meeting. Symposia highlights: The meeting was kicked off by a Keynote Lecture presented by Dr. David A Kass from Johns Hopkins University who presented his research on obesity and heart failure. Here is […]

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It’s getting cold outside…what’s a squirrel to do?

As the weather cools down, animals must find ways to stay warm. This is especially important for small animals as they lose body heat faster than larger animals. One way to stay warm is by increasing your metabolism to create body heat, although this process requires a lot of energy. That can be a problem in areas where food may be scarce in the winter. Although some animals, like the […]

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Mice have special ‘jumping genes’ that help them survive viral infections

Researchers at the University of New South Wales (UNSW), Sydney discovered a ‘jumping gene’ that prevents the immune system of mice from overreacting to a viral infection. Jumping genes are movable nucleic acids, or transposable elements, that make up nearly 2/3 of the genome in mammals. They help regulate the expression of genes. Some transposable elements in the genome are new and some originated in ancient times. In the new […]

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Aging and Immortality

Have you ever heard of the ‘immortal’ jellyfish, Turritopsis dohrnii? These tiny creatures (about 4.5 mm) are aptly named for their ability to essentially live forever. According to the Natural History Museum, when these jellyfish are damaged, they can actually revert to a prior life cycle as a polyp and become an adult jellyfish (aka, medusa) all over again. This process is called transdifferentiation. Check out this video from the […]

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Making heat to lose weight

There are many ways to stay warm on a cold day. We can seek shelter, turn up the thermostat, and huddle close together. Obvious physical adaptations to cold include fur, feathers, and clothing in the case of humans…and some pampered dogs. Blood vessels near the skin may also constrict to prevent heat loss and some animals develop a layer fat under the skin that acts like insulation. We may also […]

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New study discovers how zebrafish mend a broken heart

A new study has helped unravel the mystery explaining how zebrafish regenerate a broken heart. Their findings, published in Nature Genetics, reveal how these amazing little fish can regrow up to 20% of their heart in only 2 months following an injury. This regeneration is driven by signals released from special cells called fibroblasts. When the heart of zebrafish is injured by a stimulus that mimics a heart attack (using […]

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Buoyancy and Balance

Existing species of coelacanths (pictured above) are descendants of a group of fish that existed about 410 million years ago, during the early Devonian period. They can be found in the Western Indian Ocean off the coast of Indonesia. These fish are really interesting because they have very low metabolic rates. In fact, their metabolism is among the lowest of any other existing vertebrate. Even sloths are jealous of their […]

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