Archive for the ‘Biology’ Category

Amazing octopus camouflage

February 8, 2015

Organisms that have an adaptation to blend into their environment or conceal their shape are cool!

It’s called camouflage and prey animals (animals that get eaten) have the adaptation to avoid being seen by predators (animals that eat them).

Camouflage is really interesting!

Here is a fine example …

If you liked that check this out.

How does cancer spread through the body?

November 21, 2014

Cancer usually begins with one tumor in a specific area of the body. But if the tumor is not removed, cancer has the ability to spread to nearby organs as well as places far away from the origin, like the brain. How does cancer move to these new areas and why are some organs more likely to get infected than others?

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.


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.


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.


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