Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

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Ocean Life

What is that purple blob?

By now you have probably seen the video showing the discovery of a strange purple blob during an exploration off the coast of California. As a scientist what do you do when you find something new? You bring it back to the lab of course. Although it may take years to identify what it is, the researchers have speculated it might be some new species of soft-bodied mollusk. Check out […]

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How the rectum helps prevent dehydration in saltwater

Teleost fish living in saltwater environments are constantly compensating for water loss. This happens because their surroundings have higher concentrations of salts than their plasma and the rule of thumb in Biology is: water follows salt.  Thus these fish must somehow compensate for water loss in order to prevent dehydration. One way they do this is by drinking a lot of water. Ions are then removed from the water in the intestines which […]

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Cartilaginous fish need to regulate sulfate too

Seawater contains sulfate concentrations that are nearly 40 times those measured in plasma. Therefore, it is easy to see why fish would need to develop mechanisms to keep sulfate within a physiologically normal range. The kidneys of teleost fish have been known to excrete excess sulfate in the urine. However until now, it was not known whether the kidneys of cartilaginous fish do the same thing as their kidneys are rather complex. In a new […]

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Limb regeneration in brittle stars

A new study published in Frontiers in Zoology examined the developmental process involved in regulating limb regeneration in brittle stars (Amphiura filiformis) following amputation of an arm. Limb regeneration is a multi-stage process involving initial healing and repair of the wounded site, initial growth of the limb followed by development of more complex layers of cells until ultimately the limb has been fully regenerated. Understanding this process in brittle stars may lead to […]

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Experimental Biology – Day 5

Today was the final day of the meeting. Dr. Joe Thompson (Franklin and Marshall College) spoke about oblique striated muscles, which get their name from the diagonal pattern formed by the location of the Z-lines. This type of muscle is common among cephalopods, nematodes, tunicates, molluscs, etc. Dr. John Whiteman (University of Wyoming) gave a fascinating talk about polar bears and whether hunting on the shore as compared to the sea […]

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Experimental Biology 2016 – Day 2

Today was a great day for trainees in comparative physiology! Here are some of the highlights from their sessions: Poster presentations: Alexis MacDonald et al., (Union College – Mentor Dr. Scott Kirkton) presented research showing that grasshopper skeletal muscles may use lactate for energy! Similarly, Dongying Wang et al., (Saint Louis University – Mentor Dr. Daniel Warren) also showed that skeletal muscle from painted turtles may use lactate. I guess it […]

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Why so many of us sleep

A special thank you to reader Dr. Barbara Goodman, Professor of Physiology at Sanford School of Medicine of the University of South Dakota who sent me a story from The Scientist about sleep in animals complete with footage of a dolphin that was seen apparently “sleeping” (video posted on YouTube): Why do animals sleep? This is a question with many potential answers. It is known that birds and mammals experience slow-wave and rapid eye movement (REM) […]

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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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