My response:

It is indeed prudent to ask why these products need to be tested. If the chemicals that are in question are so toxic that they need to be thoroughly tested in awful ways before allowing an apparently superior species’ skin to touch said chemicals,  it becomes quite concerning that we would even consider putting some of these harmful things anywhere near ourselves, especially when it comes to beauty products that are not in any way necessary.

I totally understand where you’re coming from we all understand the ethical case of this issue, however we can’t just throw a bunch of products together and package them up, send them out and hope for no reactions to occur in humans whatsoever, so it seems like animal testing is pretty necessary to those who aren’t told the following facts:

·         NINE OUT OF TEN DRUGS THAT APPEAR PROMISING IN ANIMAL STUDIES GO ON TO FAIL IN HUMAN CLINICAL TRIALS (Food and Drug Administration (2006, Jan. 12). FDA Issues Advice to Make Earliest Stages of Clinical Dug Development More Efficient. Press Release. Retrieved March 2008,

·         Due to the inherent differences between animals and humans, drugs and procedures that work in animals often end up failing in humans. According to Health and Human Services Secretary, Mike Leavitt, “nine out of ten experimental drugs fail in clinical studies because we cannot accurately predict how they will behave in people based on laboratory and animal studies.” (Food and Drug Administration (2006, Jan. 12). FDA Issues Advice to Make Earliest Stages of Clinical Dug Development More Efficient. Press Release. Retrieved March 2008,

·         A significant amount of time and money, not to mention animal lives, is squandered in the process. Pfizer, for example, reported in 2004 that it had wasted more than $2 billion over the past decade on drugs that “failed in advanced human testing or, in a few instances, were forced off the market because of liver toxicity problems.” (Rotman, D. (2004). Can Pfizer Deliver? Technology Review. Retrieved March 2008,

·         There have been numerous reports of approved drugs causing serious and unexpected health problems, leading the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to remove the products from the market, or require black box warnings on their labels. The FDA has reported that “adverse events associated with drugs are the single leading contributor to preventable patient injury, may take the lives of up to 100,000 Americans, account for more than 3 million hospital admissions, and increase the nation’s hospitalization bill by up to $17 billion each year.”The agency estimates that drug-related injuries outside the hospital add $76.6 billion to health care costs. (Food and Drug Administration (2004). Innovation or Stagnation: Challenge and Opportunity on the Critical Path to New Medical Products. Retrieved March 2008,

·         Researchers from the Vanderbilt University Medical Center described some of the problems with animal ‘models’ in their 2004 article: “…[T]he design of animal studies automatically controls many variables that can confound human studies”; “…[T]he phenotypes studied in animals are not truly identical to human disease but are limited representations of them”; and “In most cases, animal studies do not assess the role of naturally occurring variation and its effects on phenotypes.” (Williams, S.M., Haines, J.L., and Moore, J.H. (2004). The use of animal models in the study of complex disease: all else is never equal or why do so many human studies fail to replicate animal findings? Bioessays, 26(2): 170-179.)

·         “There is no doubt that the best test species for humans are humans. It is not possible to extrapolate animal data directly to humans due to interspecies variation in anatomy, physiology and biochemistry.” (MacLennan & Amos. (1990). Clinical Science Research Ltd., UK, Cosmetics and Toiletries Manufacturers and Suppliers, XVII, 24.)

This brings us to ask the most important question of, well what other alternatives do we have to animal testing? There are actually numerous effective alternatives that are in fact significantly more valid than animal testing, this includes:

1.       "in vitro (test tube) test methods and models based on human cell and tissue cultures

2.       computerized patient-drug databases and virtual drug trials

3.       computer models and simulations

4.       stem cell and genetic testing methods

5.       non-invasive imaging techniques such as MRIs and CT Scans

6.       microdosing (in which humans are given very low quantities of a drug to test the effects on the body on the cellular level, without affecting the whole body system)”,  (

This is without mention of the multitude of benefits that come with these alternative methods of testing:

·         “Alternative scientific tests are often more reliable than animal tests.

For example, experiments on rats, hamsters, guinea pigs, mice, monkeys, and baboons revealed no link between glass fibers and cancer. Only after human studies related the two did the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) label these fibers as carcinogenic. EpiDerm, an in vitrotest derived from cultured human skin cells, was found to be more accurate in identifying chemical skin irritants than traditional animal tests. In comparison studies, EpiDerm correctly detected all of the test chemicals that irritate human skin, while tests on rabbits misclassified 10 out of 25 test chemicals—a full 40% error rate.

·         The use of human tissue in toxicity testing is more accurate than the animal models.

The “Lethal Dose 50” (LD50) test forces animals to ingest toxic and lethal substances to the endpoint of where 50% of the animals in the study die—and those that do not are later killed. The late Dr. Bjӧrn Ekwall (Cytotoxicology Laboratory in Sweden) developed a replacement for the LD50 test that measured toxicity at a precision rate of up to 85% accuracy compared to the LD50 rate of 61-65%. This test, far more accurate than the animal models, uses donated human tissue rather than animal. Further, the test can target toxic effects on specific human organs, whether or not the toxic substance permeates the blood barrier, and other highly sophisticated and precise information that the agonizing death of an animal of a different species would not reveal.

·         Non-animal tests are more cost-effective, practical, and expedient.

InVitro International’s Corrositex (synthetic skin) can provide a chemical corrosivity determination in as little as 3 minutes to four hours, unlike animal testing that often takes two to four weeks. DakDak, an alternative test used to measure the effectiveness of sunscreens, was reported to do in days what it takes animal studies months to do, and estimates that it can test five or six products for less than half the cost to study a single product in animals. The traditional testing of chemicals using animals can take up to five years per substance and cost millions of dollars, while non-animal alternatives can test hundreds of chemicals in a week for a fraction of the cost.

·         Cruelty-free products are more environmentally friendly.

In toxicity testing, researchers breed, test, and ultimately dispose of millions of animals as pathogenic or hazardous waste. Cruelty-free testing is less harmful to the environment or creates less waste” (

So please disregard animal testing as being relevant even when it comes to medical testing, not just cosmetic testing. It is in fact holding us back from progressing further in very important research!

Nurture impacts nature: Experiences leave genetic mark on brain, behavior

New human and animal research released today demonstrates how experiences impact genes that influence behavior and health. Today’s studies, presented at Neuroscience 2013, the annual meeting of the Society for Neuroscience and the world’s largest source of emerging news about brain science and health, provide new insights into how experience might produce long-term brain changes in behaviors like drug addiction and memory formation.

The studies focus on an area of research called epigenetics, in which the environment and experiences can turn genes “on” or “off,” while keeping underlying DNA intact. These changes affect normal brain processes, such as development or memory, and abnormal brain processes, such as depression, drug dependence, and other psychiatric disease — and can pass down to subsequent generations.

Today’s new findings show that:

  • Long-term heroin abusers show differences in small chemical modifications of their DNA and the histone proteins attached to it, compared to non-abusers. These differences could account for some of the changes in DNA/histone structures that develop during addiction, suggesting a potential biological difference driving long-term abuse versus overdose (Yasmin Hurd, abstract 257.2, see attached summary).
  • Male rats exposed to cocaine may pass epigenetic changes on to their male offspring, thereby altering the next generation’s response to the drug. Researchers found that male offspring in particular responded much less to the drug’s influence (Matheiu Wimmer, PhD, abstract 449.19, see attached summary).
  • Drug addiction can remodel mouse DNA and chromosomal material in predictable ways, leaving “signatures,” or signs of the remodeling, over time. A better understanding of these signatures could be used to diagnose drug addiction in humans (Eric Nestler, PhD, abstract 59.02, see attached summary).

Other recent findings discussed show that:

  • Researchers have identified a potentially new genetic mechanism, called piRNA, underlying long-term memory. Molecules of piRNA were previously thought to be restricted to egg and sperm cells (Eric Kandel, MD, see attached summary).
  • Epigenetic DNA remodeling is important for forming memories. Blocking this process causes memory deficits and stunts brain cell structure, suggesting a mechanism for some types of intellectual disability (Marcelo Wood, PhD, see attached summary).

"DNA may shape who we are, but we also shape our own DNA," said press conference moderator Schahram Akbarian, of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, an expert in epigenetics. "These findings show how experiences like learning or drug exposure change the way genes are expressed, and could be incredibly important in developing treatments for addiction and for understanding processes like memory."

The scent of a man

Scientists’ inability to replicate research findings using mice and rats has contributed to mounting concern over the reliability of such studies.

Now, an international team of pain researchers led by scientists at McGill University in Montreal may have uncovered one important factor behind this vexing problem: the gender of the experimenters has a big impact on the stress levels of rodents, which are widely used in preclinical studies.

In research published online April 28 in Nature Methods, the scientists report that the presence of male experimenters produced a stress response in mice and rats equivalent to that caused by restraining the rodents for 15 minutes in a tube or forcing them to swim for three minutes. This stress-induced reaction made mice and rats of both sexes less sensitive to pain.

Female experimenters produced no such effects.

“Scientists whisper to each other at conferences that their rodent research subjects appear to be aware of their presence, and that this might affect the results of experiments, but this has never been directly demonstrated until now,” says Jeffrey Mogil, a psychology professor at McGill and senior author of the paper.

The research team, which included pain experts from Haverford College and the Karolinska Institutet in Sweden and a chemosensory expert from Université de Montreal, found that the effect of male experimenters on the rodents’ stress levels was due to smell. This was shown by placing cotton T shirts, worn the previous night by male or female experimenters, alongside the mice; the effects were identical to those caused by the presence of the experimenters, themselves.

Further experiments proved that the effects were caused by chemosignals, or pheromones, that men secrete from the armpit at higher concentrations than women. These chemosignals signal to rodents the presence of nearby male animals. (All mammals share the same chemosignals).

These effects are not limited to pain. The researchers found that other behavioural assays sensitive to stress were affected by male but not female experimenters or T-shirts.

“Our findings suggest that one major reason for lack of replication of animal studies is the gender of the experimenter – a factor that’s not currently stated in the methods sections of published papers,” says Robert Sorge, a psychology professor at the University of Alabama, Birmingham. Sorge led the study as a postdoctoral fellow at McGill.

The good news, Mogil says, is that “the problem is easily solved by simple changes to experimental procedures. For example, since the effect of males’ presence diminishes over time, the male experimenter can stay in the room with the animals before starting testing.  At the very least, published papers should state the gender of the experimenter who performed the behavioral testing.”

Feathers close up (stock image). The researchers’ hypothesis: The evolution of feathers made dinosaurs more colorful, which in turn had a profoundly positive impact on communication, the selection of mates and on dinosaurs’ procreation. Credit: © thawats / Fotolia [Click to enlarge image]

Why were dinosaurs covered in a cloak of feathers long before the early bird species Archaeopteryx first attempted flight? Researchers from the University of Bonn and the University of Göttingen attempt to answer precisely that question in their article “Beyond the Rainbow” in the latest issue of the journal Science. The research team postulates that these ancient reptiles had a highly developed ability to discern color. Their hypothesis: The evolution of feathers made dinosaurs more colorful, which in turn had a profoundly positive impact on communication, the selection of mates and on dinosaurs’ procreation.

The suggestion that birds and dinosaurs are close relatives dates back to the 19th century, the time when the father of evolutionary theory, Charles Darwin, was hard at work. But it took over 130 years for the first real proof to come to light with numerous discoveries of the remains of feathered dinosaurs, primarily in fossil sites in China. Thanks to these fossil finds, we now know that birds descend from a branch of medium-sized predatory dinosaurs, the so-called theropods. Tyrannosaurus rex and also velociraptors, made famous by the film Jurassic Park, are representative of these two-legged meat eaters. Just like later birds, these predatory dinosaurs had feathers — long before Archaeopteryx lifted itself off the ground. But why was this, particularly when dinosaurs could not fly?

Dinosaurs’ color vision

"Up until now, the evolution of feathers was mainly considered to be an adaptation related to flight or to warm-bloodedness, seasoned with a few speculations about display capabilities" says the article’s first author, Marie-Claire Koschowitz of the Steinmann Institute for Geology, Mineralogy and Paleontology at the University of Bonn. "I was never really convinced by any of these theories. There has to be some particularly important feature attached to feathers that makes them so unique and caused them to spread so rapidly amongst the ancestors of the birds we know today," explains Koschowitz. She now suggests that this feature is found in dinosaurs’ color vision. After analyzing dinosaurs’ genetic relationships to reptiles and birds, the researcher determined that dinosaurs not only possessed the three color receptors for red, green and blue that the human eye possesses, but that they, like their closest living relatives, crocodiles and birds, were probably also able to see extremely short-wave and ultraviolet light by means of an additional receptor. "Based on the phylogenetic relationships and the presence of tetrachromacy in recent tetrapods it is most likely that the stem species-of all terrestrial vertebrates had photo receptors to detect blue, green, red and uv," says Dr. Christian Fischer of the University of Göttingen.

This makes the world much more colorful for most animals than it is for human beings and other mammals. Mammals generally have rather poor color vision or even no color vision at all because they tended to be nocturnal during the early stages of their evolution. In contrast, numerous studies on the social behavior and choice of mates among reptiles and birds, which are active during the day, have shown that information transmitted via color exerts an enormous influence on those animals’ ability to communicate and procreate successfully.

Feathers allowed for more visible signals than did fur

We know from dinosaur fossil finds that the precursors to feathers resembled hairs similar to mammals’ fur. They served primarily to protect the smaller predatory dinosaurs — which would eventually give rise to birds — from losing too much body heat. The problem with these hair-like forerunners of feathers and with fur is that neither allow for much color, but tend instead to come in basic patterns of brown and yellow tones as well as in black and white. Large flat feathers solved this shortcoming by providing for the display of color and heat insulation at the same time. Their broad surface area, created by interlocked strands of keratin, allows for the constant refraction of light, which consequently produces what is referred to as structural coloration. This refraction of light is absolutely necessary to produce colors such as blue and green, the effect of metallic-like shimmering or even colors in the UV spectrum. “Feathers enable a much more noticeable optical signaling than fur would allow. Iridescent birds of paradise and hummingbirds are just two among a wealth of examples,” explains Koschowitz.

This work means we must see the evolution of feathers in a whole new light. They provided for a nearly infinite variety of colors and patterns while simultaneously providing heat insulation. Prof. Dr. Martin Sander of the University of Bonn’s Steinmann Institute summarizes the implications of this development: “This allowed dinosaurs to not only show off their colorful feathery attire, but to be warm-blooded animals at the same time — something mammals never managed.”

Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Universität Bonn. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.

Journal Reference:

  1. M.-C. Koschowitz, C. Fischer, M. Sander. Beyond the rainbow. Science, 2014; 346 (6208): 416 DOI: 10.1126/science.1258957

Fascinating!  Really, this got me thinking big time.

(F5 for some edits… got a great critique on FA!)

I need to do more studies. I hate doing them from photos, but it’s the best way to see animals that would shred my face or necessitate laser eye vision to see them from three miles away. B:

I think this was little over an hour from start to finish?