Archive for the ‘Biology’ Category

Biggest Walrus Gathering Recorded as Sea Ice Shrinks

October 5, 2014

Scientists have photographed the largest gathering of Pacific walruses ever recorded, on a beach in northern Alaska.

mass-walrus-gathering

It’s hardly the first big walrus gathering to be documented. But scientists say the size of the gatherings are growing as climate change melts Arctic sea ice, depriving walruses of their sunning platforms of choice.

As the ocean heats up due to global warming, Arctic sea ice has been locked in a downward spiral. Since the late 1970s, the ice has retreated by 12 percent per decade. Learn more here.

What happens when you have no cerebellum in your brain?

September 14, 2014

A woman has reached the age of 24 without anyone realising she was missing a large part of her brain. The case highlights just how adaptable the organ is.

The discovery was made when the woman was admitted to hospital complaining of dizziness and nausea. Doctors did a CAT scan and immediately identified the source of the problem – her entire cerebellum was missing. The space where it should be was empty of tissue. Instead it was filled with cerebrospinal fluid, which cushions the brain and provides defence against disease.

Scan showing no cerebellum (top). Normal brain (bottom).

Scan showing no cerebellum (top). Normal brain (bottom).

The cerebellum’s main job is to control voluntary movements and balance, and it is also thought to be involved in our ability to learn specific motor actions and speak. Problems in the cerebellum can lead to severe mental impairment, movement disorders, epilepsy or a potentially fatal build-up of fluid in the brain. However, in this woman, the missing cerebellum resulted in only mild to moderate motor deficiency, and mild speech problems such as slightly slurred pronunciation. Learn more here.

Chimpanzee brain power is strongly heritable

July 11, 2014

If a chimpanzee appears unusually intelligent, it probably had bright parents. That’s the message from the first study to check if chimp brain power is heritable.

Chimpanzee

The discovery could help to tease apart the genes that affect chimp intelligence and to see whether those genes in humans also influence intelligence. It might also help to identify additional genetic factors that give humans the intellectual edge over their non-human-primate cousins.

The researchers estimate that, similar to humans, genetic differences account for about 54 per cent of the range seen in “general intelligence”. Learn more here or here.

Why You Are Still Alive – The Immune System Explained

July 10, 2014

Why are we alive when our bodies are constantly under attack from bacteria, viruses and more? As this video explains, it is thanks to our immune systems that we have an army of cells fighting for our cause.

Dinosaurs were neither warm nor cold blooded

June 17, 2014

Depending on the source of an organism’s body warmth, it may be classified as either an ectotherm or an endotherm. An ectotherm is an animal that warms itself primarily by obtaining heat from the environment, perhaps by sunning itself. Ectothermic animals include most fish, amphibians, and reptiles as well as most invertebrates. An endotherm is an animal that produces most of its own heat and maintains a constant body temperature even when environmental temperatures fluctuate. All birds and mammals are endotherms.

Paleontologists have struggled for years to determine whether dinosaurs were cold-blooded like today’s reptiles or warm-blooded like most modern mammals and birds.

It turns out the answer is neither. Scientists have found evidence for “mesothermy” in dinosaurs. The “mesothermy” found in dinosaurs likely allowed them to move quickly, given that they would not need to constantly eat in order to maintain their body temperature (as do endotherms). As well, the dinosaur’s mesothermic metabolic rate would have decreased the vulnerability of these species to extreme fluctuations in external temperature, allowing them to exert some control of body temperature via internal mechanisms.

Dinosaur Mesotherm

Learn more here, here or here.

Dead man’s fingers

May 14, 2014

Xylaria polymorpha, commonly known as dead man’s fingers, is a fungus. It is a common inhabitant of forest and woodland areas, usually growing from the bases of rotting or injured tree stumps and decaying wood.

Spooky ….

Dead man's fingers

Your genes are not your fate

May 12, 2014

Dr. Dean Ornish shares new research that shows how adopting healthy lifestyle habits can affect a person at a genetic level. For instance, he says, when you live healthier, eat better, exercise, and love more, your brain cells actually increase. And new findings show that a healthier lifestyle can turn off disease-provoking genes and turn on the good ones.

Biologists Create Cells With 6 DNA Letters, Instead of Just 4

May 10, 2014

One of the first things you learn in Biology 101 is that the genetic code consists of four letters: A, T, C, and G. Each represents a chemical building block of DNA, the molecule that encodes the information necessary to build life as we know it. But what if we didn’t have to settle for just four letters? Now, scientists have accomplished something once thought impossible: They’ve created cells with an expanded genetic alphabet that includes two more letters.

6 DNA Letters

Having more letters to work with potentially opens the door to a huge range of novel molecules. (A rough analogy: Just think how many crazy new words you could spell with 39 letters instead of the usual 26). With further refinements, synthetic cells might one day be used to create–or evolve–proteins that don’t exist in nature, as well as new sequences of DNA and RNA, any of which could be useful for research, diagnosing disease, or creating new therapies. But that’s still a ways off. Learn more here.

Blood Vessel in Eye Spells the Word “Love”

May 7, 2014

Bloodshot eyes appear red because the blood vessels in the surface of the white portion of the eye (sclera) become swollen. This may result from dry air, too much sun, dust, something in the eye, allergies, infection, or injury.

And while a million monkeys typing for a million years will not reproduce Shakespeare’s work, 7 billion humans on Earth with 14 billion eyeballs will eventually create an eyeball which is capable of spelling the word ‘love’ using small blood vessels called capillaries.

See:

Blood Vessel Spells Love

Centipede vs Snake

April 16, 2014

In the tradition of ‘Killer Whale vs Seal‘, ‘Lion vs Buffalo vs Crocodile‘, ‘Shark vs Octopus‘, ’Leopard vs Porcupine‘, ‘Hornets vs Honey bees‘, ’Salmon vs Grizzly Bear‘, ‘Hippopotamus vs Crocodile’, ‘Polar Bear vs Walrus Colony’, ‘Giraffe vs Giraffe‘, ‘Caterpillar vs Frog‘, ‘Frog vs Poison Newt’, ‘Rubber bands vs Water Melon’,  ‘Sarcastic fringehead vs Sarcastic fringehead’, ‘Jaguar vs Crocodile‘, and ‘Snake vs Crocodile‘, here is ‘Centipede vs Snake’:

Centipede Eats Snake

It seems a female nose-horned viper snake tried to eat a centipede. It got the centipede down its throat …. but the centipede fought back!!!

The centipede began to eat its way out of the snake, eventually killing the snake! The centipede almost succeeded in attaining freedom, breaking free from the snake’s body, when the snake’s venom finally killed it. Learn more here.


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 580 other followers