placenter

The Least Weasel is the smallest meat-eating placental mammal (carnivora) weighing as little as .88 oz (25g). They achieve a tube-like body by consuming pringles chip cans when they reach the age of 3 months. 

Photograph by Kellen Witschen

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“Trust God” aka potentially die. No wonder the clinic wouldn’t do the procedure. I hope she gets help from an actual doctor and not these people.

If she dies because of this pregnancy, make no mistake, these people who have harassed her and annoyed her through text message played a part.

These screenshots were taken from a public Facebook.

Today marks the 101st birthday of a remarkable women you’ve probably never heard of.

In the late 50′s-early 60′s a drug called Kevadon was patented and started on clinical trials by a German pharmaceutical company. This drug, initially marketed as a sedative, was found to have anti-emetic properties and was quickly adopted by Canada and over 20 European and African countries for morning sickness. When the drug came up for approval by the FDA, despite intense pressure from the company (including complaints filed with supervisors), one FDA medical officer insisted on more rigorous testing before approving the medication despite the fact that Congress had not yet given the FDA the authority to do that. 

In 1961, the dots were connected and it became public knowledge that Kevadon, more commonly known by it’s generic name thalidomide, crossed the placental barrier had severe teratogenic effects on the developing fetus causing severe birth defects including the well known limb deformities. 

Frances Oldham Kelsey singlehandedly blocked a dangerous drug from reaching the US market. She probably would never have been in the position to do that if she didn’t have a name that was mistaken for a man’s when she applied as a research assistant at the University of Chicago. In fact, her acceptance letter was addressed to a Mr. Frances Oldham. Conflicted about the unconscious deceit, Frances asked her professor if it was okay to accept the position. His answer was “don’t be stupid.”

While at Chicago, Frances earned her PhD, fell in love and used herself as a guinea pig (she once trialled a malaria drug that turned her bright yellow). 

It was in her early days at the FDA that Frances stalled the approval of thalidomide in the US. Because she refused to balk, despite the complaints and the insistence that she was depriving needy women of this incredible remedy, thalidomide was never sold for morning sickness* in the US. When the side effects of the medication came to light, Frances was awarded the Distinguished Civilian Service Medal by president John F. Kennedy in 1962. Of the ceremony, she recalls “It was a lovely day. And he was very handsome.”

*Of note, thalidomide is still in use today but now for very restricted chemotherapeutic indications.

Frances retired from the FDA in 2005 at 90 years old. Today she lives a quiet life in a Washington suburb. Letters from the Queen and Barack Obama decorate a hall table. She spends her time watching birds, doing crosswords and has a glass of sherry at 11am and an old fashioned cocktail at 5pm

Just last year, on the occasion of her 100th birthday, she offered advice to those who face adversity: “Just stick to your guns.”

So happy birthday Frances Oldham Kelsey. Thanks for being a badass.

Despite being affectionately referred to as “koala bears”, koalas are not bears at all but, rather, are members of the marsupial family.

Marsupials include kangaroos, wallabies, wombats, possums, and are identified by their pouch, which they use to raise their young. Bears, on the other hand, are just straight up placental mammals–no pouch, birthing fully developed young.

No, really, Konrad Gesner’s Monkey suuuper wants to know about that HILARIOUS thing your BFF did at the club last night, before she woke up in the park, under a bench!

Sometimes I start thinking about convergent evolution and get so excited that I have to go sit down

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Echidnas and platypuses are monotremes, i.e. mammals which lay eggs (in contrast to marsupials and placental mammals which give birth to live young). Monotremes are only found in Australia and New Guinea and include four species of echidnas and a single species of platypus. 

Platypuses are one of a few venomous mammals. They have a gland in their feet from which venom is released. It is thought that it may be use to compete against other males during the mating season.   

Echidnas have the lowest body temperature of all mammals. Their average body temperature is around 32C and can fluctuate within 8 degrees over the course of a day. 

Drawings from Genera mammalium, por Angel Cabrera. Monotremata, Marsupialia

Thank goodness it’s Fossil Friday! 

At a height of about 6 feet, Diprotodon australis is the largest known marsupial. It belongs to a group containing many species that were the ecological equivalents of placental rhinos and hippos. Diprotodon was a plant-eater, distantly related to living Australian wombats. It was common throughout Australia until the end of the last Ice Age, about 20,000 years ago. 

Check out this cast in the Museum’s Hall of Primitive Mammals. 

~Learn Latin the Fast and Fun way!~

Lesson 1
Story 1


Artemisia et Maximus 

Artemisia est femina et habet duos filios. 

Artemisia is a woman and (she) has two sons.


Nunc in horto est.

Now she’s in the garden.

 Sedet et cogitat. 
She is sitting and (she) is thinking(/contemplating)

Maximus, suus amicus intrat. Artemisia Maximum spectat. 
(Maximus, her friend enters. Artemisia stares at Maximum).

-Quid agis? (Maximus)

How are you? (/What are you doing?)

-Bene, et tu? (Artemisia)

Well and you?
-Laboro. I am working
-Tibi placent mei flores?

Do you like my flowers?

-Flores sunt pulchri.
Flowers are beautiful.

-Quid agit tuus filius? 

What is your son doing? (/How is your son?)

-Dormit. 

He is sleeping. 


-Hmmmm… Bene, [ego] pingere volo. 

Hmmmmm… Good, I want to draw/paint.

 -Quid pingere visne?
What do you want to draw?

-Leonem

A lion

-Ooooo, sede! Audio aliquid!

Oooo, sit down! I am hearing something!

-Quid es? What is it?

-Nescio! I don’t know!


A man with a beard approaches Artemisia and Maximus. 


Artemisia: Quis es tu? Who are you?

Stranger: Ego sum novus vicinus.

I am the new neighbour.

Artemisia: (smells the air suspiciously) 

Novus vicinus? Et quid vis hic?

The new neighbour? And what do you want here?

Vicinus: Cur es irata?
Why are you angry?


Artemisia: Hmmm… Non sum irata
inquit femina et spectat virum. 

Hmmmmm… I am not angy… the woman says and she stares at the man. 


Quiz: 

Fill in the following gaps in Latin!

Artemisia is a woman (_fe______) and she is sitting at the garden( in hor__).

Maximus is her friend (am_____). The woman loves flowers( fl____).

Her son is sleeping (do_____).

Now fill in the gaps in English.

Artemisia habet duos filios (filios=_____). Filius suus dormit (dormit=_____). 

Maximus pingere (pingere= ______) vult (wants). 

Artemisia ist irata 

irata means

a) angry    b) sleeping

Artemisia flores amat

flores mean:

a) garden    b) flowers

Vir novus vicinus est.

Vir means:

a) man     b) woman


To be continued…

Hope you enjoyed this brief story :) 

There is something that I will one day tell you that will change your whole life. But I cannot say it now. I must wait.

There must be another birth: I am five years old already: aging fast. I am writing words ‘the dog’ and ‘dead girl’ and 'placental grief’ and I am good at spelling. There are whole words that respond to accidents in good faith. There are words born in the mouths of wolves. And imitation.

One day I will clarify the idea of distance as I unpick the rope with the stabbing of scissors. The pillow re-arranged: teeth. The words will become an idea that evokes a dream. And I will sleep for years inside your conscience.

—  diary
2015

Some Like It Hot: A Look at Capsaiscin

If you’ve ever eaten a chili pepper– either because of a dare or by your own volition– you have no doubt come across the painful burning sensation that comes soon after. But what causes this pain? And why does it exist in the first place? Before we look at chemistry, we have to look at biology– specifically, evolution.

Capsaicin is found naturally in chili peppers, in varying quantities. To truly understand its purpose, we have to look at where it’s located. The amounts of capsaicin vary throughout the plant, but the highest concentrations are found in the placental tissues surrounding the seeds of the plant. This makes sense evolutionarily, as the seeds are the future generations of  these peppers. It makes sense that the plant would use whatever means are most effective to protect its progeny. Capsaicin, with its burning, itching, stinging side effects, acts as a perfect deterrent to possible predators looking for a tasty meal.

Now that we know why capsaicin exists - why does it burn? This is where the chemistry comes in. The burning, painful sensation attributed to capsaicin results from chemical interactions with sensory neurons. When introduced to the body, capsaicin binds to a specific receptor called the transient receptor potential cation channel subfamily V member 1 (TrpV1) or, more simply, the vanilloid receptor subtype 1. This receptor is a subtype of receptors that are present in peripheral sensory neurons. The vanilloid receptor 1 is usually reserved for detecting heat or physical abrasion. When heat is applied to the surface of the skin this TRPV1 ion channel opens, allowing cations (positively charged ions) into the cell. This inflow of cations activates the sensory neuron, which sends signals to the brain that there is a painful stimulus present. Capsaicin has a binding site on the receptor, and opens the cation channel just like if heat were applied. This results in a signal to be brain to alert you of a potential threat and produces a burning sensation where the capsaicin was introduced, but without an actual burn.

Interestingly, while the receptor works this way in most mammals, it is not activated by capsaicin in birds; therefore, birds are the largest distributors of capsaicin seeds in the natural environment.

This has just been a brief overview of some of the chemistry of capsaicin, but hopefully next time you bite into a jalapeno, you’ll take a moment to appreciate the science that’s occurring before you gulp down your milk!

References:

Pingle SC, et al. Capsaicin receptor: TRPV1 a promuscious TRP channel. Handbook of experimental pharmacology. 2007.(179):155-71.

Tewksbury JJ. et al. Ecology of a spice: Capsaicin in wild chilies mediates seed retention, dispersal and germination. Ecology. 2008. (89):107-117.

Submitted by thatoneguywithoutamustache

Edited by Ashlee R.