Hypercalcemia versus Hypocalcemia

Hypercalcemia:
GROANS (constipation)
MOANS (psychic moans = fatigue, lethargy, depression)
BONES (bone pain)
STONES (kidney stones)
Psychiatric OVERTONES (including depression and confusion)
Can’t pick up the PHONE! (muscle weakness, lack of coordination)

Hypocalcemia = CATS go numb:
C = Convulsions
A = Arrhythmias
T = Tetany (+Trousseau and +Chvostek’s)
S = Spasms, Seizures, & Stridor

Numbness in the fingers

(source)

'Big Brain' Gene Found in Humans, Not Chimps

A single gene may have paved the way for the rise of human intelligence by dramatically increasing the number of brain cells found in a key brain region.

This gene seems to be uniquely human: It is found in modern-day humans, Neanderthals and another branch of extinct humans called Denisovans, but not in chimpanzees.

By allowing the brain region called the neocortex to contain many more neurons, the tiny snippet of DNA may have laid the foundation for the human brain's massive expansion.

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It’s official, you should drink more coffee.

The US Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion - which brings together the top healthcare panel in the US - has broken its silence on caffeine. The panel says that with no studies showing negative effects on caffeine consumption on health, and a number of positive associations, it can now recommend drinking between 3 -5 cups per day - well above the current average of around 1 cup per day.

From their report:

Currently, strong evidence shows that consumption of coffee within the moderate range (3 to 5 cups per day or up to 400 mg/d caffeine) is not associated with increased long-term health risks among healthy individuals. In fact, consistent evidence indicates that coffee consumption is associated with reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease in healthy adults. Moreover, moderate evidence shows a protective association between coffee/caffeine intake and risk of Parkinson’s disease. Therefore, moderate coffee consumption can be incorporated into a healthy dietary pattern, along with other healthful behaviors. To meet the growing demand of coffee, there is a need to consider sustainability issues of coffee production in economic and environmental terms. However, it should be noted that coffee as it is normally consumed can contain added calories from cream, milk, and added sugars. Care should be taken to minimize the amount of calories from added sugars and high-fat dairy or dairy substitutes added to coffee.

Wolves as dogs lift their hind leg while urinating

With dogs this behaviour is only common with most male dogs, while only a few female dogs perform this behaviour. 

With wolves it’s quite a different situation as both the breeding male and the breeding female both urinate with one of their hind legs up. The subordinate wolves in the pack - both males and females - do not pefrom this behaviour, but rather sit down like it’s common for female dogs to do. 

Gene that makes human brain unique identified by scientists 

Key DNA strand propels neuron growth in brain’s region central to reasoning, language and sensory perception-

…The human brain has almost tripled in size over the past 7 million years into a 1,300cc organ containing 100bn neurons that consume a whopping fifth of our energy. The most rapid growth occurred in the past 2 million years. Homo erectus walked the Earth 1.8 million years ago with a brain size half that of a modern human’s. “What we now have is a gene that is characteristic of a 1.3 litre to 1.4 litre brain, and that makes it very exciting,” Huttner said.

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An example of the predatory abilities of Octopuses

Usually associated with its ability to hide and blend in with the environment, the Octopus is also a formidable predator; with many of its defence mechanisms assisting in hunting. 

It’s tentacles have it’s own version of a “nervous system”. This gives them the ability to move defensively or aggressively of their own accord, also being able to regrow if removed from the creatures body.

The ink of an Octopus is also harmful other creatures and they will often use it against a potential meal to harm and disorientate it before the eventual attack.

(Youtube 1, 2. Info)

New Algae Species Helps Coral Stand the Heat

It’s no secret that the world’s coral reefs are rapidly declining, taking the one-two punch that is warming temperatures and mounting ocean acidification. However, there is hope, and it’s coming straight from an unknown member of the natural world. Researchers have just discovered a new species of algae, and it’s one that seems to be able to help corals survive otherwise deadly temperatures.

That’s at least according to a study recently published in the journal Scientific Reports, which details how a previously unknown species of algae (Symbiodinium thermophilum) found in the waters of Abu Dhabi, of the United Arab Emirates, is what likely facilitates what is the warmest known coral reef habitat.

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Seeking SciNote, Biology: Speciation

Question:

At what point does an organism become a new species? In order to accumulate mutations, it has to reproduce, right? But isn’t the definition of a species that the new can’t successfully reproduce with other members of its original species? 

Asked by anonymous 

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Answer:

[image source]

True, what you mentioned is one hallmark of a new species. The biological species concept predicts that organisms from separate species will be unable to breed with each other and produce fertile offspring. However, it is important to remember that “reproductive isolation” is not the only factor contributing to the formation of new species. In fact, the biological species concept does not explain speciation very well in cases of sexual populations or hybridization events, such as the liger featured above.

Many other species concepts have been proposed, including the following:

The Morphological Species Concept:

  • defines a species as organisms in a population that possess a set of unique traits (e.g. physical features) that distinguish them from other populations.
  • can cause issues with organisms that look very similar to one another but are actually separate species (e.g. raccoon and red pandas, coyotes and wolves).

The Recognition Species Concept:

  • defines the the boundary of a species based on the ability of organisms within the population to recognize each other as potential mates (e.g. polar bears and grizzly bears).

The Ecological Species Concept:

  • identifies species based on the specific ecological niche to which that population is adapted (e.g. a species of salamander in the American Southwest vs. a species of salamander from the Brazilian rainforest).

You may have heard of animals like ligers, mules and grolar bears. These animals are the result of interbreeding, or hybridization, between organisms of separate species. This actually doesn’t defy the biological species concept. Most hybrids are sterile, meaning that they cannot produce their own offspring. However, this is dependent on how long the parental species have been separate from each other. For example, grizzly bears and polar bears separated from each other only 150,000 years ago. Given the relatively short time period that grizzlies and polar bears have been distinct species, there hasn’t been enough time to set up pre-and-postzygotic barriers. On the other hand, horses and donkeys diverged about 2.4 million years ago, and horses have two more chromosomes than donkeys. As a result, the chromosomes of mules, the offspring of horses and donkeys, do not segregate properly, leading to infertility.

Asexually reproducing organisms like bacteria and archaea are considered distinct species based on differing alleles that they acquire via horizontal gene flow. Horizontal gene flow is simply the exchange of alleles across populations and is necessary for prokaryotes to become new species. It has been suggested that horizontal gene transfer is the primary mechanism by which they gain alleles. An important difference to note is that unlike eukaryotes, prokaryotes require gene flow in order to become new species.

While different concepts help us determine which organisms are part of which species, these are not the only factors. We must also consider things like genetic drift, natural selection, and migration leading to geographical separation. Also, even the tiniest amount of gene flow leads to the possibility of a population remaining the same species, and so in this sense it is impossible to know the exact point when two species become distinct from one another.

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Answered by: Simone A., Expert Leader
Edited by: Peggy K.

If you have any science-related questions for our team of Experts at SciNote, please drop by our ask box to submit your questions! 

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René Descartes, the OG of modern philosophy, thought that non-human animals were nothing but machines; they simply acted as if they felt anguish and pleasure and fear and joy, but in reality they possessed no emotions whatsoever. A dog yelping in pain was, to Descartes, just a mechanical device going through the motions, like a clock ticking away time. Needless to say, it takes some serious mental gymnastics to come to such a callous and self-serving position. Descartes would be chagrined to learn how deeply emotional many non-human animals have proven to be. In fact, the more we study our furry, feathered, and scaly cousins, the more we uncover a wealth of profound intellectual capabilities—a regular cornucopia of consciousness! Never before have we been presented with such compelling reasons to expand our circle of empathy and extend our compassion and care to such a wide-range of beings. It’s exciting to see how much we have yet to uncover about our own family! 

Check out other non-human animals doing some seriously impressive stuff here!

Lasiocampid Moth Caterpillar (Lasiocampidae)

These large Lasiocampidae moth caterpillars are practically invisible against the tree trunks and branches where they rest.
Once threatened however, they exhibit a startle response aimed at frightening or confusing a potential predator by exposing a pair of blue/black flashes behind their heads, reminiscent of a pair of eyes opening.



by Sinobug (itchydogimages) on Flickr.
Pu’er, Yunnan, China

See more Chinese caterpillars on my Flickr site HERE…..

If a vampire bat doesn’t drink its own weight in blood in one night, it will die of starvation, so if a bat fails to get enough blood, other bats will share blood to keep their friend alive! It isn’t surprising after reading this that they are the most soc

Gallimimus bullatus

Source: http://dinosaurs.wikia.com/wiki/Gallimimus

Name: Gallimimus bullatus 

Name Meaning: Chicken Mimic

First Described: 1972

Described By: Osmólska, Roniewics & Barsbold 

ClassificationDinosauria, Saurischia, Eusaurischia, Theropoda, Neotheropoda, Averostra, Tetanurae, Orionides, Avetheropoda, Coelurosauria, Tyrannoraptora, Maniraptoriformes, Ornithomimosauria, Ornithomimidae, Ornithomiminae

Gallimimus is a fairly famous ornithomimosaur simply by virtue of it being in the Jurassic Park franchise. Even though it was found running away from Tyrannosaurus in the film, its not too far off the mark: Gallimimus lived alongside T. rex’s similar cousin, Tarbosaurus.  We do know a reasonable amount about the dinosaur, though, as it is known from numerous individuals, as well as some juveniles. It was one of the largest members of its family, reaching up to 8 meters long and four meters high. It was found in the Nemegt Formation in Mongolia, and lived in the Maastrichtian age of the Late Cretaceous, about 70 million years ago. It was extremely ostrich like in appearance, much like the other members of its family. It had very short hands compared to its arms, unique to it as opposed to other ornithomimosaurs. It had hollow bones and very thin jaw bones. It had long, powerful legs, good for running away from predators. 

Source: http://phenomena.nationalgeographic.com/2013/12/16/feathers-for-tyrannosaurs/

Gallimimus, like other members of its family, was probably an omnivore, though the definitive dietary status of the group is still under debate. It had structures in its beak much like that of ducks, which would be used to strain small bits of food form the water. But these structures in the beak also resemble surfaces in the beaks of herbivorous turtles, indicating that rather than being filter-feeders, Gallimimus and kin were strictly herbivorous. More fossils will need to be found to better understand the dietary habits of these animals. It was a relatively basal ornithomimosaur, no where near as derived as Struthiomimus or Ornithomimus, two other famous members of the group. Besides Tarbosaurus, this animal lived alongside other large dinosaurs such as Gigantoraptor. 

Sources: 

http://www.prehistoric-wildlife.com/species/g/gallimimus.html

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gallimimus


Shout out goes to angelofdisease!


youtube

The Neurochemistry of Flow States, with Steven Kotler

Steven Kotler explains the neurochemical changes during flow states that strengthen motivation, creativity and learning. “The brain produces a giant cascade of neurochemistry. You get norepinephrine, dopamine, anandamide, serotonin and endorphins. All five of these are performance enhancing neurochemicals.” Kotler discusses how each amplifies intellectual and cognitive performance. Read more at BigThink.com: http://bigthink.com/videos/the-neuroelectricity-of-flow-states-with-steven-kotler

By: Big Think.