Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

Sponsored by the American Physiological Society

Alligator snorkeling

I read an interesting article in Live Science about a unique way a group of American alligators use to survive periods of freezing water, for a few days at least. As the temperature drops, the animals stick their nose out of the water and are thus able to breathe through the ice. During cold months the alligators also reduce their metabolism, a process called brumation, which is different from hibernation […]

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Breathing air

Researchers interested in the evolution of air breathing in bony fishes (Osteicthyes) recently published a fascinating review in the Physiologist. The ability to breathe air made life on land as we know it possible. What is interesting though is that the ability to breathe air actually evolved independently possibly 38-67 times in history. Currently, there are over 400 air-breathing fishes belonging to the Sarcopterygii and Actinopterygii classes. To adapt to life on land, […]

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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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Importance and dangers of oxygen for air-breathing animals

Although oxygen is essential for air-breathing species and allowed for the evolution of multicellular organisms, it is also a dangerous molecule that can lead to cellular toxicity through the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS). However, it is important to point out that cellular ROS also play several physiological roles in the body. I just read an interesting review article published in Physiological Reviews that explored natural oxygen delivery and availability […]

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