Tag Archives: mammal

MU Research of Zebrafish Neurons May Lead to Better Understanding of Birth Defects like Spina Bifida

COLUMBIA, Mo. – The zebrafish, a tropical freshwater fish similar to a minnow and native to the southeastern Himalayan region, is well established as a key tool for researchers studying human diseases, including brain disorders. Using zebrafish, scientists can determine how individual neurons develop, mature and support basic functions like breathing, swallowing and jaw movement. Researchers at the University of Missouri say that learning about neuronal development and maturation in zebrafish could lead to a better understanding of birth defects such as spina bifida in humans.

“We are studying how neurons move to their final destinations,” said Anand Chandrasekhar, professor of biological sciences and a researcher in the Bond Life Sciences Center at MU. “It’s especially critical in the nervous system because these neurons are generating circuits similar to what you might see in computers. If those circuits don’t form properly, and if different types of neurons don’t end up in the right locations, the behavior and survival of the animal will be compromised.” (more…)

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Bat’s sea crossing is first from UK to mainland Europe

A tiny bat found in the Netherlands is believed to provide the first direct evidence that British bats migrate over the sea between the UK and mainland Europe. 

The bat, a Nathusius’ pipistrelle, flew from Blagdon near Bristol across the country and over the North Sea before settling in a farm building near the coast in Friesland – a direct journey of 596 kilometres (370 miles).

Bat experts in both countries are working together to learn more about this remarkable journey and its implications for bat conservation and offshore windfarms. (more…)

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Grasshopper Mice Are Numb to the Pain of the Bark Scorpion Sting

AUSTIN, Texas — The painful, potentially deadly stings of bark scorpions are nothing more than a slight nuisance to grasshopper mice, which voraciously kill and consume their prey with ease. When stung, the mice briefly lick their paws and move in again for the kill.

The grasshopper mice are essentially numb to the pain, scientists have found, because the scorpion toxin acts as an analgesic rather than a pain stimulant. (more…)

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Microbes Help Hyenas Communicate via Scent

EAST LANSING, Mich. — Bacteria in hyenas’ scent glands may be the key controllers of communication.

The results, featured in the current issue of Scientific Reports, show a clear relationship between the diversity of hyena clans and the distinct microbial communities that reside in their scent glands, said Kevin Theis, the paper’s lead author and Michigan State University postdoctoral researcher.

“A critical component of every animal’s behavioral repertoire is an effective communication system,” said Theis, who co-authored the study with Kay Holekamp, MSU zoologist. “It is possible that without their bacteria, many animals couldn’t ‘say’ much at all.” (more…)

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Why are There so Many Species of Beetles and So few Crocodiles?

Answer may be ‘adaptive zones’ that limit species number, life scientists report

There are more than 400,000 species of beetles and only two species of the tuatara, a reptile cousin of snakes and lizards that lives in New Zealand. Crocodiles and alligators, while nearly 250 million years old, have diversified into only 23 species. Why evolution has produced “winners” — including mammals and many species of birds and fish — and “losers” is a major question in evolutionary biology.

Scientists have often posited that because some animal and plant lineages are much older than others, they have had more time to produce new species (the dearth of crocodiles notwithstanding). This idea — that time is an important predictor of species number — underlies many theoretical models used by biologists. However, it fails to explain species numbers across all multi-cellular life on the planet, a team of life scientists reports Aug. 28 in the online journal PLoS Biology, a publication of the Public Library of Science. (more…)

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In Real Time, Yale Scientists Watch Stem Cells at Work Regenerating Tissue

Scientists have for the first time watched and manipulated stem cells as they regenerate tissue in an uninjured mammal, Yale researchers report July 1 online in the journal Nature.

Using a sophisticated imaging technique, the researchers also demonstrated that mice lacking a certain type of cell do not regrow hair. The same technique could shed light on how stem cells interact with other cells and trigger repairs in a variety of other organs, including lung and heart tissue.

“This tells us a lot about how the tissue regeneration process works,” said Valentina Greco, assistant professor of genetics and of dermatology at the Yale Stem Cell Center, researcher for the Yale Cancer Center and senior author of the study. (more…)

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