Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Ever wonder why bats sleep upside down?

Just in time for Halloween: Besides being an excellent way to avoid predators, roosting or hanging upside down is optimal for taking off into flight. Bats are not able to launch into flight from an upright position because their wings do not generate sufficient lift while at a dead stop. Additionally, their hindlegs are rather underdeveloped, so they are not able to run to generate lift for take-off. Instead, bats […]

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Centipede venom blocks pain more effectively than morphine

Researchers from the Chinese Academy of Sciences and The University of Queensland have discovered a venom from centipedes capable of blocking pain more effectively than morphine! According to the study authors, centipedes have appeared in the fossil records as far back as 430 million years. They are also one of the first land-dwelling creatures to use venom to incapacitate their prey as shown in the image above of a Chinese […]

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Spider creates sculptures

Check out this “sculpure” of a spider discovered by Biologist Phil Torres, created by what may be a new species of Cyclosa found in the Peruvian Amazon. This is not just a pattern weaved by the spider into the web, but instead it is created from debris in the forest (dead insects, leaves, etc.). It is believed the spiders use the sculptures to confuse predators. The real spider can be […]

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Crows show ability to reason

Dr. Alex Taylor from The University of Auckland has demonstrated that New Caledonian crows have the ability to perform causal reasoning, which is the ability to infer that something you cannot see may be the cause of something. According to the article, this is the first study to experimentally demonstrate this ability in a species other than humans. Source Science Now

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Venezuelan poodle moth and others

I was browsing through The Scientist and came across this image of a Venezuelan poodle moth that I could not resist sharing: What is interesting about this particular moth is that scientists are currently trying to figure out exactly what type of moth it is (its phylogeny). Needless to say, the image of this fluffy moth has gone viral. The flickr website by Dr. Arthur Anker, a Zoologist, contains photos of numerous other […]

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Epilepsy medication reverses symptoms of Alzheimer’s

Researchers Sanchez et al. from the Gladstone Institute, University of California San Francisco and Washington University School of Medicine discovered that an FDA-approved anti-convulsant medication used to treat epilepsy (levetiracetam) can also reverse memory loss in addition to reducing other Alzheimer’s related symptoms in a mouse model of the disease. Alzheimer’s is currently the most common form of dementia (memory loss) representing 50-80% of cases. It is a disease that worsens over time. Although […]

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100-year old manuscript talks about the sexual “crimes” of penguins

According to the report on the Discover Magazine website, George Levick, a surgeon and zoologist, went on an Antarctic expedition with Captain Robert Scott (the Terra Nova Expedition) where he spent time observing and documenting the largest colony of Adélie penguins at Cape Adare (image above). Following his trip he published a story about the penguins for the general public as well as a scientific account. It was in this second document that he wrote […]

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