bizarre

This category contains 23 posts

How to Make Stem Cells… Using Acid!

Just yesterday, two papers were published in the journal Nature showing a completely novel way to make stem cells – the approach uses an acid bath. This method is rather shocking in its simplicity, and it’s unclear why or how it works, but somehow it does. Basically, the researchers took adult (somatic) cells from young … Continue reading »

Contagious Dog Cancer is 11,000 Years Old

We know of few cancers that are contagious. The ones we’re most familiar with are caused by viruses, such as the human papillomavirus (HPV), which can cause cervical cancer, and hepatitis B, which can cause liver (hepatic) cancer. (To read more about these virus-caused cancers and their vaccines, check out my book Biology Bytes: Digestible … Continue reading »

H7N9: Pandemic Potential?

Have you heard of H7N9? It’s a new avian influenza virus, and it has good reasons to be making people worried. Early last year, the virus was first found in people in China. There it’s been found in poultry (domestic birds like chickens, ducks, and geese) and is thought to be primarily spread through contact … Continue reading »

Abominable Snowman!

It’s a time of year when many fantastical creatures comes to mind: flying reindeer, singing and dancing snowmen, elves, green furry Grinches, and jolly old men with long white beards who squeeze through millions of chimneys in a single night. Another famous figure that comes to mind is the Abominable Snowman, or “Yeti.” The Yeti … Continue reading »

Mistletoe: A Parasitic, Poisonous Plant

Have you ever wondered why it’s a tradition to hang up some mistletoe around this time of year and kiss under it? Or what about the mistletoe plant itself – where does it normally live when it’s not hanging above our doorways? While we now often associate this tradition with Christmastime, like many “Christmas traditions,” … Continue reading »

Many Animals Don’t “Age”

Why do we have to visibly age as we get older? It might sound like a silly question – the terms “aging” and “growing old” are virtually synonymous – but for many organisms on the planet, this question actually does not need to be asked. Earlier this week, a paper was published in the journal … Continue reading »

Underground Giants: The Gippsland Earthworm

Have you ever been digging around in some rich, damp soil and come across an earthworm? When we think of earthworms, we usually think of small, wriggly critters that can just barely fit in the palm of our hand. But there are many gigantic types of earthworms around the world that can grow to astonishing … Continue reading »

Camouflage Experts: Walkingsticks

Have you ever looked at part of a plant only to discover it’s actually an insect? Walkingsticks, also known as stick-bugs, are insects that have mastered the art of camouflage. With long, skinny bodies that are usually green or brown in color (or even able to change color!), these bugs easily blend in with the … Continue reading »

Biology Bytes: The Books

The Biology Bytes blog was inspired by the publication of two separate books by the same author. If you enjoy reading about the fascinating critters and plants that are all around us, or the latest developments in stem cell research or modern medicine in general, or have simply been enjoying reading the wide variety of … Continue reading »

Assassins of the Bug World

When thinking of fierce little critters, poisonous spiders often come to mind. Their fear-inducing image is all over right now for the spooky Halloween season. But there’s actually a group of insects that hunts spiders – the aptly-named assassin bugs. And how they accomplish this feat is quite amusing – the assassin bugs will often … Continue reading »