Spending Valentine’s Day with your sweetheart might just take on a new meaning ... an evolutionary one. Even though we live in an era in which endless opportunities for a mate are just a swipe left or right, science suggests that maybe we all have that one special someone out there. Social monogamy is the … Continue reading 23 and We? Mating for Life Could Be Genetic
On February 2, the country’s most famous groundhog, Punxsutawney Phil, was once again pulled out of hibernation to ask whether we can expect six more weeks of winter. His verdict: an early spring, though according to some reports, his predictions are not very reliable. One thing that is for sure, however, is that winter is … Continue reading Why Groundhogs Really Hibernate (It’s Not Just to Predict Six More Weeks of Winter)
Take a deep breath in. Now breathe out. Each time we breathe, oxygen enters the bloodstream to keep our organs alive and working. When oxygen can’t get to our body’s tissues, they begin to fail. This is true of all organs, but most of all the brain. In conditions like stroke and cardiac arrest—when the … Continue reading Running on Empty: No Oxygen Needed!
Animals can be cute, cuddly, weird-looking and even scary. To a comparative physiologist—someone who studies the physiological function of different species—animals can also be the key to understanding human health. Animals can provide clues about the world’s larger ecological systems. This is becoming more and more important as climate change and pollution become two of … Continue reading Survival of the Fishes: Research in Comparative Physiology
Here come real stars to fill the upper skies, And here on earth come emulating flies, That though they never equal stars in size, (And they were never really stars at heart) Achieve at times a very star-like start. Only, of course, they can't sustain the part. –Robert Frost, “Fireflies in the Garden” The warm … Continue reading Firefly “Magic”
They aren’t moving. They’re not responding to touch or light. Their hearts aren’t beating. They’re no longer breathing. Their skin is ice-cold and hard to the touch. By that description, you probably don’t think I’m describing living things. However, there are some animals that survive like this because of a process called freeze tolerance. Unlike … Continue reading How Do Frogs Survive the Cold? By Freezing
We all know the saying “use it or lose it.” Your muscles and nerves are no exception. When people are not active, whether it’s because of bed rest, spinal cord and nerve injury, or other reasons, two big problems arise. First, the muscles shrink by losing protein (a state called atrophy). Second, nerve cells have … Continue reading What Animals Can Teach Humans about Muscle Maintenance
Physiology, the study of function from microscopic cells to complete organ systems, encompasses a wide range of fascinating topics. The annual Experimental Biology (EB) meeting is a showcase for thousands of researchers studying humans and animals alike. Check out some of the research presented at last month’s meeting in Chicago: Most people know that walking … Continue reading Walking and the Brain, Aromatherapy for Horses and a Whole Lot More!
Winter officially begins next week with the winter solstice—the day of the year with the fewest hours of sunlight—on Dec. 21. With the cold weather and shorter days, you might be tempted to curl up under a blanket until the spring thaw. Whether you plan to hibernate or get outside to enjoy the chill, … Continue reading Bring on Winter! (But Stay Safe and Healthy)
Want to learn more about physiology without going back to school for a PhD? Check out http://www.physiologyinfo.org. The website, hosted by the American Physiological Society, goes in-depth to explain the multi-faceted field of physiology to nonscientists. In addition to examining hot and emerging areas of research such as brain physiology, obesity and exercise, we … Continue reading Physiology for the Armchair Scientist