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  • November 25, 2014
  • 09:00 AM
  • 923 views

As A Bird - It's No Turkey

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

The turkey is an amazing bird, beyond it’s taste on Thanksgiving. It has some really funky structures on its head, like the caruncles, wattle and snood, but research shows that they are important in mate selection. The question is why they have been retained even though they are artificially bred nowadays. Maybe they are for more than just mate selection. And yes....turkeys can fly.... Read more »

  • November 21, 2014
  • 02:58 PM
  • 1,665 views

Genome, Evolution, and Domestication of the Cat

by Daniel Koboldt in Massgenomics

Even though most of my posts on MassGenomics concern human genetics and genomics, today I’d like to highlight a milestone in another species, one that many humans care fiercely about. This guy: Cat lovers, rejoice! This month in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciencs, Mike Montague, Wes Warren, and colleagues published the first complete […]... Read more »

Montague MJ, Li G, Gandolfi B, Khan R, Aken BL, Searle SM, Minx P, Hillier LW, Koboldt DC, Davis BW.... (2014) Comparative analysis of the domestic cat genome reveals genetic signatures underlying feline biology and domestication. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 25385592  

  • November 19, 2014
  • 10:25 AM
  • 757 views

A Meal More Powerful Than The NFL

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Tryptophan supposedly puts you to sleep at Thanksgiving, but research shows that turkey isn’t really that high in this amino acid. On the other hand, tryptophan can save lives. In several old cultures, human sacrifices increased during periods of the year when tryptophan levels in the diet were low. ... Read more »

  • November 7, 2014
  • 11:01 AM
  • 998 views

Powerful Ravens Sabotage Others’ Relationships

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

  If we’re lucky, this is behavior we haven’t seen since high school. The coolest individuals can’t stand to see others gaining social status, so they cut down any peers who are starting to elevate themselves. Ravens have to live with this behavior all the time. When the top-dog birds see others building new relationships, […]The post Powerful Ravens Sabotage Others’ Relationships appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

Massen, J., Szipl, G., Spreafico, M., & Bugnyar, T. (2014) Ravens Intervene in Others’ Bonding Attempts. Current Biology. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.09.073  

  • November 7, 2014
  • 11:01 AM
  • 778 views

Powerful Ravens Sabotage Others' Relationships

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

 
If we're lucky, this is behavior we haven't seen since high school. The coolest individuals can't stand to see others gaining social status, so they cut down any peers who are starting to elevate themselves. Ravens have to live with this behavior all the time. When the top-dog birds see others building new relationships, they attack these birds or put themselves in the middle. They may as well be spreading rumors or defacing each other's lockers.

Wild ravens living in Austria were the ones... Read more »

Massen, J., Szipl, G., Spreafico, M., & Bugnyar, T. (2014) Ravens Intervene in Others’ Bonding Attempts. Current Biology. DOI: 10.1016/j.cub.2014.09.073  

  • November 5, 2014
  • 09:00 AM
  • 1,161 views

Doing More With Less

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Animal-like protists are similar to animal cells, but they do many things in their single cell that we have a hard time competing with. New research shows that they may be useful in medicine, as well as lethal in some cases. N. fowleri is a brain eating amoeba, but calcium tests of foraminifera may be helpful in bone grafts and repairing skull fractures.... Read more »

Sifuentes LY, Choate BL, Gerba CP, & Bright KR. (2014) The occurrence of Naegleria fowleri in recreational waters in Arizona. Journal of environmental science and health. Part A, Toxic/hazardous substances , 49(11), 1322-30. PMID: 24967566  

  • November 4, 2014
  • 03:42 AM
  • 855 views

RotM: Interview with Prof. Michael Garstang

by Coffee Table Science in CTS






We continue our Researcher of the Month (RotM) series, with an interview with Professor Michael Garstang, Distinguished Investigator and Research Professor at the Department of Environmental Sciences at the University of Virgina. Professor Garstang is also associated with a Simpsons Weather Associates, a private environmental research company and recently published a paper in PLoS One about ... Read more »

  • October 29, 2014
  • 09:00 AM
  • 1,473 views

Almost This Or Almost That? Must Be The Other

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

The protists are a catch-all kingdom, neither characteristics nor cladistics can easily group them, or even tell you what one is. Recent studies have begun to identify histories of the plant-like protist phyla based on their flagella. Rhodophyta are a basal phylum, and yet they have no flagella at all, while genomic studies have identified 495 different proteins in chromista flagella, with some being specific to each of the two dissimilar flagella on the organisms. Such diversity within one grou........ Read more »

  • October 22, 2014
  • 09:05 AM
  • 898 views

Death By Haunted House

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

People enjoy a good scare at Halloween, it’s an epinephrine rush without the bother of real danger. But could you actually be scared to death? Science says yes, it should really be called the fight, flight, faint, or fatality response. In susceptible people, a severe fright can literally change the shape of the heart and destroy the efficient pumping of blood. Unfortunately, something similar can happen in infants, and it can be lethal as well.... Read more »

  • October 14, 2014
  • 10:30 AM
  • 1,223 views

Zombies And The Loss of Free Will

by Mark E. Lasbury in The 'Scope

Nature is rife with examples of how one organism can rob another of its free will, turning them into zombies so to say. Who would have guessed that Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds was really a zombie movie.... Read more »

  • October 11, 2014
  • 12:39 PM
  • 1,018 views

Saying NO to Our Food Craving Is Not as Simple as It Seems

by Wiley Asia Blog in Wiley Asia Blog - Life Sciences

Fitness junkies would not believe this, but our road to obesity could be greatly affected by the number and type of bacteria living within us. Researchers from UC San Francisco, Arizona State University and University of New Mexico suggest that a power struggle inside our gut happens daily. As it is a game of ‘survival-of-the-fittest’, our gut microbes would compete with each other over the availability of their preferred nutrient (e.g. sugar or fats). As a result, they influence our........ Read more »

  • October 7, 2014
  • 09:00 AM
  • 1,355 views

Get Some Sleep - Your Brain Will Thank You

by Mark E. Lasbury in The 'Scope

We all know we should get more sleep, but new research is showing that it isn’t just a good idea, it preserves brain structure and function. Sleep loss affects learning, and new studies show that sleep deprivation can cause irreversible neuron loss in the locus coeruleus, and that depression associated with lack of sleep can reduce hippocampus size. In fatal familial insomnia, the prion plaques destroy the thalamus and indicate a decrease in mitochondrial function – the same type pro........ Read more »

  • October 3, 2014
  • 11:02 AM
  • 930 views

How to Say “SOS” in Catfish

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish

It’s good to have a plan in case of emergency. If there’s a fire, take the stairs to the ground floor. If a bird tries to eat you, say “ERK ERK ERK” by grinding your spine bone against your shoulder bone until it drops you. That latter one will work best if you’re a certain […]The post How to Say “SOS” in Catfish appeared first on Inkfish.... Read more »

  • October 3, 2014
  • 11:02 AM
  • 674 views

How to Say "SOS" in Catfish

by Elizabeth Preston in Inkfish



It's good to have a plan in case of emergency. If there's a fire, take the stairs to the ground floor. If a bird tries to eat you, say "ERK ERK ERK" by grinding your spine bone against your shoulder bone until it drops you. That latter one will work best if you're a certain kind of catfish (but feel free to try it and report back).

Our glossary of thorny catfish phrases is getting a little more complete, thanks to Lisa Knight and Friedrich Ladich at the University of Vienna. Thorny or "ta... Read more »

  • October 1, 2014
  • 09:00 AM
  • 1,382 views

One Thing Is Just Like The Other – Sort Of

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Recent studies have illustrated how complicated evolution by descent with adaptation can be. Convergent evolution and parallel evolution explain the fingerprints of koalas and the marsupial and placental saber-toothed cats. Dollo’s Law of Irreversibility has been shown to be plastic, as frogs have re-evolved mandibular teeth and stick insects have lost and regained wings several times. ... Read more »

Lahti, D. C., N. A. Johnson, et al. (2009) Relaxed selection in the wild. . Trends in Ecology and Evolution, , 24(9), 487-496. info:/

Stone G, & French V. (2003) Evolution: have wings come, gone and come again?. Current biology : CB, 13(11). PMID: 12781152  

  • September 24, 2014
  • 07:00 AM
  • 1,395 views

Chase The Good, Evade The Bad

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

New research has found a bacterium that is spherical, yet has flagella all over its surface (peritrichous). This bacterium is also the only magnetotactic organism discovered that has both magnetite and Greigite crystals. Other research is showing that changing fields can turn magnetotactic bacteria on command. With some bacteria able to generate electrical circuits and others being able to open and close circuits on command, can bacterial computers be far away?... Read more »

  • September 17, 2014
  • 09:05 AM
  • 1,170 views

Should I Stay Or Should I Go

by Mark Lasbury in As Many Exceptions As Rules

Bacteria can swarm to conquer new territory or settle into structured biofilms, not unlike tribes that are nomadic versus those that build cities. New research indicates has shed light on the mechanics of swarming and biofilm production, including the function of extracellular DNA and secreted polysaccharides. Both biofilms and swarming depend on quorum sensing, and several new papers have identified chemicals that can interrupt quorum sensing in pathogenic bacteria and therefore prevent disease........ Read more »

Gloag ES, Turnbull L, Huang A, Vallotton P, Wang H, Nolan LM, Mililli L, Hunt C, Lu J, Osvath SR.... (2013) Self-organization of bacterial biofilms is facilitated by extracellular DNA. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 110(28), 11541-6. PMID: 23798445  

Alteri CJ, Himpsl SD, Pickens SR, Lindner JR, Zora JS, Miller JE, Arno PD, Straight SW, & Mobley HL. (2013) Multicellular bacteria deploy the type VI secretion system to preemptively strike neighboring cells. PLoS pathogens, 9(9). PMID: 24039579  

  • September 8, 2014
  • 09:00 AM
  • 1,259 views

I’ll Wager That You Bet On Football, Or Maybe Football

by Mark E. Lasbury in The 'Scope

Betting on American football and football proper is a trillion dollar a year industry. Why do only 4% of gamblers become addicted. Some of it is actually due to the games themselves. New research is showing that a belief in your knowledge of the game and the “near miss” wherein you almost win your bet, are strong factors in dopamine signaling in the reward centers of the brain.... Read more »

Anselme P, & Robinson MJ. (2013) What motivates gambling behavior? Insight into dopamine's role. Frontiers in behavioral neuroscience, 182. PMID: 24348355  

Huberfeld R, Gersner R, Rosenberg O, Kotler M, & Dannon PN. (2013) Football gambling three arm-controlled study: gamblers, amateurs and laypersons. Psychopathology, 46(1), 28-33. PMID: 22890307  

Khazaal Y, Chatton A, Billieux J, Bizzini L, Monney G, Fresard E, Thorens G, Bondolfi G, El-Guebaly N, Zullino D.... (2012) Effects of expertise on football betting. Substance abuse treatment, prevention, and policy, 18. PMID: 22578101  

Zhou K, Tang H, Sun Y, Huang GH, Rao LL, Liang ZY, & Li S. (2012) Belief in luck or in skill: which locks people into gambling?. Journal of gambling studies / co-sponsored by the National Council on Problem Gambling and Institute for the Study of Gambling and Commercial Gaming, 28(3), 379-91. PMID: 21894576  

Grötsch P, Lange C, Wiesbeck GA, & Lang U. (2013) Pathological Gambling Induced by Dopamine Antagonists: A Case Report. Journal of gambling studies / co-sponsored by the National Council on Problem Gambling and Institute for the Study of Gambling and Commercial Gaming. PMID: 24356928  

  • August 25, 2014
  • 09:28 AM
  • 2,146 views

Chinese Food And The One Hour Dilemma

by Mark E. Lasbury in The 'Scope

Everyone thinks they have the answer to why you get hungry soon after eating a plate of Chinese food, but it may be more complex than a simple answer. Some people blame MSG, others say it is the higher glycemic index of rice and noodles, while others claim it is the low fat, low protein aspects of Chinese food. New studies shows that MSG, high glycemic index foods and vegetable protein diets do not alter satiety and hunger hormone levels as compared to other meal types. It may be that the satiet........ Read more »

  • August 22, 2014
  • 06:13 AM
  • 1,018 views

Is Intelligence Actually Beneficial To Survival?

by Rebekah Morrow in United Academics

Research shows that more intelligent animals might not always be best suited for survival. Some researchers speculate that intelligence may be a trade-off. Fast learning may correlate with other traits, such as being less aggressive, which could weaken chances for survival. Slower learning may indicate that other choices are being made, and this variety could prove advantageous later.... Read more »

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