Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

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Pets

EB 2022: Modeling human diseases and healthy aging

I sat through a very interesting session at this year’s Experimental Biology conference called, “The Power of Comparative Models for Accelerating Translational Healthspan Research: Underutilized Lab Animals, Companion Pets, Old World Monkeys, and Pumas.” While the title seems to capture the general idea of the symposium, I thought I would share a bit more information about the presenters and their exciting research. Dr. Karyn Hamilton from Colorado State University presented […]

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Arizona Physiological Society’s annual conference: Part 2

Arizona’s physiologists met in October to talk about Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever, urbanization, the evolution of walking and vocalizations, snow leopards, and diet. Here are the highlights… Oral Presentations: Graduate student Luke Endicott from the Arizona College of Medicine at Midwestern University, working with R. Potter and Dr. C.R. Olson presented their research exploring how zebra finches learn to sing and the importance of vitamin A in this process. Does […]

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Women tend to “mother” their pet cats

Often dubbed the “love hormone”, oxytocin is more than just responsible for pair bonding and feelings of trust. It is quite well-known by mothers who have induced labor (ever heard of Pitocin?) and is responsible for milk ejection during breastfeeding as well as maternal behaviors.    Given the role of oxytocin in human social interactions and relationships, as well as studies showing its involvement in human attachments to pet dogs, […]

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Are humans really just upright cats?

Okay seriously, humans are not actually cats. But, humans and cats do share similar nervous system control over how we move from one place to another, i.e. locomotion as described in a recent review article published in Physiology. The ability for mammals to finely control movement depends on two main control systems located in the brain and spine as well as sensory feedback from the skin, muscles, tendons, eyes, and […]

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Why being ‘bird-brained’ may actually be a compliment

It has long been suspected that birds (and reptiles) were not very smart because they lack a neocortex – the part of the brain that is responsible for working memory, perception, problem solving, and conscious thought in mammals. In stark contrast to this idea, studies have repeatedly shown that several species of birds have very good memories as well as planning and problem solving skills (see examples below), which has […]

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Your dog’s internal compass

Apparently pooping is not the only thing dogs do that align with the Earth’s magnetic field. Hunting dogs are kind of like migratory birds in their ability to roam and find their way back to the same spot, while relying on the Earth’s magnetic field. In a new study published in eLife, the same researchers that discovered how dogs prefer to poop found that hunting dogs appear to use the […]

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Researchers explore why wild canids live longer than domestic dogs and why size matters

Ever wonder why some breeds of dogs live longer than others? Or why wild canids, such as gray wolves, live longer than similar sized domesticated dogs (20.6 vs 10-12 years)? Drs. Ana Jimenez (Colgate University, New York) and Dr. Cynthia Downs (State University of New York, Syracuse) teamed up to examine a common marker of aging in animals – oxidative stress. Oxidative stress happens when there is a build-up of […]

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Sex differences in eating after exercise

Diet and exercise are regarded as the most effective means to maintain weight as well as lose weight. But, there’s sometimes a catch as their effectiveness varies between individuals. Moreover, many people find it really difficult to keep the weight off. Researchers think this may happen in part because the body adapts to weight loss by increasing appetite and decreasing energy expenditure. Here is where exercise, in particular, is thought […]

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Feline drug may lead to new Covid-19 treatment

Researchers at Anivive, a pet health drug discovery and commercialization company, are seeking approval to test a new drug for Covid-19 that was originally developed to treat feline intestinal coronavirus. Similar to Covid-19, feline coronavirus is very contagious. In some cats, the virus mutates and leads to feline infectious peritonitis (FIP), which is currently the top cause of death for young cats and kittens (~700,000 cats annually). The new drug, […]

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