Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Sheep can recognize human faces

New research published in Royal Society: Open Science shows that it is possible to train sheep to distinguish between different human faces shown in photos.  In fact, 8 out of 10 times, the sheep were able to choose the image they had been trained to recognize. According to study author Dr. Jenny Morton, “…sheep have advanced face-recognition abilities, comparable with those of humans and monkeys.” Because these animals are rather […]

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Centipede Analgesics

In the face of the current opioid crisis, scientists are searching for new and safer painkillers (analgesics). Venomous animals may be useful in the search as their venom can contain peptides with analgesic properties. In fact, researchers recently discovered and characterized an analgesic peptide, dubbed SsmTX-I, that was isolated from the venomous centipede, Scolopendra subspinipes mutilans. This peptide was shown to block a type of potassium channel (Kv2.1) in the body that is involved in sensing […]

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How Ossabaw Island swine are helping us understand obesity and diabetes

         Ossabaw Island off the coast of Georgia (United States) is home to feral swine brought over by early Spanish explorers. In relative isolation on the island, with the exception of the introduction of a Hampshire pig, the Ossabaw pigs have become genetically distinct from those living on the mainland. Ossabaw pigs are prone to obesity and are the only miniature pigs known to develop type 2 […]

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Importance of diet to the physiology of farm-raised fish

Image of a fish farm by Vera Kratochvil [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons Fish farming, i.e. aquaculture, has increased about 6.2% between the years 2000-2012, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Fish farms are highly dependent on fish meal as well as fish oil as nutrients for the growing fish. Although rates of farming have increased, the supply of fish meal and oil are predicted […]

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Passing gas

Many children (and adults) find humor in flatulence. If you count yourself among these individuals, then a new book written by zoologist Dani Rabaiotti and ecologist Nick Caruso, coming out in April 2018, is a must-read. The book examines which animals truly pass gas and is aptly titled, “Does it Fart?” No longer will you be limited to only blaming it on the dog or cat. Although you will not […]

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