Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

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Pets

Do octopuses (and other animals) dream?

Video captured by Rebecca Otey (via YouTube) at the Butterfly Pavilion in Colorado seems to suggest that perhaps octopuses dream in their sleep: Although it is not clear whether octopuses really are dreaming when they change colors in their sleep, researchers at the World Science Festival in 2011 discussed work studying changes in brain activity of animals during sleep compared to wakefulness to gauge whether they may be dreaming:

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Could zinc be involved in forming kidney stones?

Zinc is a micronutrient that is essential for normal protein production and for various enzymes to function properly in the body. Levels are important to regulate because too much can be toxic to the kidneys whereas too little can lead to problems with immune and metabolic function as well as infertility. In a new study published in American Journal of Physiology – Renal Physiology, researchers were interested in how zinc […]

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Lack of sleep stresses out birds too

Birds show signs of stress resulting from sleep loss. A new study published in Physiological and Biochemical Zoology shows that zebra finches who are sleep deprived have increased expression of inflammatory genes in their fat tissues, spleen and hippocampus region of the brain along with  increased levels of circulating stress hormones. The hippocampus is the region of the brain associated with long term memory formation. I wonder if sleep deprived birds are […]

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Taller horses are more prone to exercise intolerance

A common cause of exercise intolerance in horses is equine recurrent laryngeal neuropathy (RLN). This is a fancy way of saying that the animals are not able to open their larynx on the left side very well during strenuous exercise, which limits their oxygen intake and ability to exercise. Larger horses, like thoroughbreds, are more prone to developing this condition than smaller breeds. In a new study published in Physiological Genomics […]

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Watch out T Rex…

Researchers used supercomputers in a new study to see who had the toughest bite…the winner? ….drumroll… the finch! By examining bite force and body mass, researchers found that if finches were the same size as a T Rex, their bite would be 320 times stronger than the ancient dinosaur’s bite. In fact, finches evolved amazing bite strength given their small body size. Source: Live Science  

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The physiology of bad taste

Ever wonder how humans and other animals evolved the ability to detect foods that can potentially harm us? A recent article published in Physiological Reviews, explains the physiology behind why certain foods taste bad. The act of tasting is very complex and includes receptors in our mouths that can detect specific chemicals in our food and prepare our digestive system to receive the food and, as anyone with a cold knows, […]

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Longevity of dogs

Dogs are weird when it comes to predicting longevity based on body size. For many species, small body size means higher metabolic rate and shorter lifespan. For dogs, smaller body size = longer lifespan. Dr. Ana Jimenez (Colgate University) presented research at the Comparative Physiology meeting this weekend showing that larger dogs do indeed develop more DNA damage with aging than smaller dogs.

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Physiology in Arizona – Part 1

This past weekend the Arizona Physiological Society held their 11th annual conference on the Tempe campus of Arizona State University. There were so many oral and poster presentations on comparative physiology that I will spend this entry focusing on the oral sessions. The Keynote address was given by Dr. Michael Joyner (Mayo Clinic, Rochester) who spoke about the importance of not just focusing research efforts on reductionist approaches, including many […]

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Study examines link between sleep apnea and cancer

A recent review published in the¬†American Journal of Physiology – Regulatory, Integrative and Comparative Physiology¬†explored the link between sleep apnea and cancer (4). More and more people are living with sleep apnea. In fact, current estimates indicate that up to 24% of men as well as up to 5% of women have obstructive sleep apnea (4). Individuals with sleep apnea experience repeated cycles of low oxygen (hypoxia) and reoxygenation throughout […]

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What your pets really like to eat

Although dogs and cats are both carnivores, they have surprisingly different appetites for food. In a study published last month, researchers at Oregon State University examined what our beloved pets really like to eat. Their results, published last month in the Journal of Experimental Biology, were rather surprising: dogs showed preference towards foods high in fats (41% fat, 36% carbohydrates) whereas cats preferred foods high in carbohydrates (43% carbohydrates, 30% proteins). […]

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