Life Lines by Dr. Dolittle

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Tag Archive for ‘evolution’

Green-blooded lizards

Researchers have known that some lizards have green blood due to bile pigments: In fact, six species of lizards found in New Guinea are known to have green blood. The levels of bile found in their blood are four times higher than the toxic level for humans. New research shows that green blood evolved independently 4 times in evolutionary history. These findings suggest that high levels of circulating green bile […]

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Environmental impact on physiology

Several of the comparative physiology posters and talks presented at the Experimental Biology conference today focused on the impact of environmental changes on the physiology of animals. Here are some highlights: Rachel Heuer, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Miami working with Dr. Martin Grosell, examined the effects of crude oil on heart function in mahi-mahi. As the Deepwater Horizon spill occurred when these fish were spawning, it is […]

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#1: Is there an evolutionary advantage to “being stupid”?

And the #1 blog entry published thus far in 2017 discussed whether there was an evolutionary advantage to being stupid: —- As I was looking through the scientific literature the other day, I came across an article published in 1973, “The Evolutionary Advantages of Being Stupid.” With a title like that, how could I not read it? In this article Dr. Eugene D. Robin discussed how larger and more complex brains are […]

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Viral defenses are encoded in their genes, but not ours

Through the course of evolution vertebrates have apparently lost their gene-encoded viral defense mechanisms. These ancient defenses allow plants and insects to silence the expression of certain genes by using what is known as RNA interference. This natural defense system can be manipulated to create genetically modified crops that resist certain infections. However, a new study by researchers from the University of Leuven in Belgium examined over 40 organisms in […]

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Meet the amazing and ‘ew’-inspiring Pacific hagfish

Pacific hagfish (Eptatretus stoutii), aka “slime eels”, are primitive fish that occupy burrows on the ocean floor. Like earthworms, they have 5 hearts. They have no true eyes, no jaws, nor do they have a stomach. They locate their meals through great senses of smell and touch. In addition to small invertebrates, they are known for consuming carrion that fall to the ocean floor. By consume, I mean burrow into […]

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How bird eggs got their shape

  Ever wonder why bird eggs are shaped the way they are and what drives the variations in egg shapes across species? I never really wondered that either until I saw an article in Science that explained a possible reason…then I just HAD to know. Some theories had been proposed suggesting that their shape prevented eggs from rolling out of nests or otherwise sustaining damage, and so on. According to the new study, […]

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