Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Nature’s Solutions

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 […]

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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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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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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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Shape-shifting animals adapting to climate change

A recent review of the existing scientific literature found evidence suggesting that warm-blooded animals may be literally shape-shifting to adapt to climate changes. According to Allen’s rule, animals living in warmer climates have larger appendages than those living in cold climates, which helps increase the available surface area for heat loss to the environment. Such heat exchange mechanisms are very important in thermoregulation to avoid retaining excess heat. The authors […]

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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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High altitude survival and adaptation

Life at high altitude presents unique physiological challenges for organisms that were explored in a recent review published in the American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology. For placental mammals, offspring born at high altitude (>2500 m above sea level) typically weigh less at birth compared to lowland animals. Fetal growth restriction is problematic as it is associated with long-term health risks and reduced survival. It is […]

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