Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Ants ‘nurse’ their injured

A study conducted at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland shows that Matabele ants, Megaponera analis, lick wounds their comrades sustain while hunting termites. It is thought that this “nurse”-like behavior may help prevent infection as ants receiving such care are more likely to survive: Sources: Youtube / New Scientist Frank ET, Wehrhahn M, Linsenmair KE. Wound treatment and selective help in a termite-hunting ant. Proceedings of the Royal Society B, DOI: 10.1098/rspb.2017.2457  

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Personal space neurons

Do you ever get an annoying feeling when people invade your personal space? Or move without even thinking about it when something is suddenly coming at you? Turns out, we really do live in our own bubbles and we have special neurons, called peripersonal neurons, that are responsible for sensing that space and sending feedback to our brains. It is thought that these neurons are important for sensing approaching dangers […]

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Human Echolocation

Bats and dolphins are famous for using echolocation to help navigate their surroundings. In contrast, humans normally rely on vision to navigate. When vision is impaired, however, we can learn to rely on echolocation. Although it is rare to find people who rely solely on hearing:

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Chocolate: Bad for Fido, good for us?

Many animals, especially dogs and cats, cannot tolerate theobromine which is an alkaloid from the cacao plant. Studies of humans, however, have found many beneficial health effects of theobromine, caffeine as well as flavonoids found in cocoa (Martinez-Pinilla et al., 2015). A new study published in Journal of Applied Physiology examined whether cocoa extract can improve heart health in individuals exercising in hypoxic conditions. Hypoxia (i.e. low atmospheric oxygen) reduces the […]

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Special diet improves feline chronic kidney disease

Some good news for cats (and their owners)! Like people, cats can develop chronic kidney disease. In fact, about 10% of felines over the age of 9 years develop it. Common symptoms in cats include weight loss, reduced muscle mass, and often excessive urination and thirst. Other symptoms include metabolic acidosis and more advanced stages may include protein loss in the urine In a new study published in Physiological Reports, researchers […]

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Intelligence: Dogs vs Cats

A new study seems to have provided an answer to the age-old question of who is smarter: dogs or cats? The speculation before the study was conducted was that hunting may require extra brain cells (neurons). If true, that would mean that cats would have more neurons than dogs. My apologies to all of the cat lovers out there. The findings from the study suggest that dogs may actually be […]

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