placenter

More Mammals with Venom

by John Wible

The duck-billed platypus, Ornithorhynchus anatinus, is no doubt one of the world’s oddest mammals, with a suite of adaptations to its life in streams in eastern Australia and Tasmania. Its suede-like bill is packed with electro- and mechanoreceptors, which help the platypus find small invertebrates and fish in murky waters. It has webbed forefeet and hind feet and a hairy, beaver-shaped tail, all great for swimming and diving, and a lush, thick coat for insulation on cold mornings.

As with other mammals, the female platypus produces milk to nurture its young. However, its young are hatched from leathery eggs! Along with the echidna or spiny anteater from Australia and New Guinea, the platypus is one of the two types of living monotremes or egg-laying mammals. This is in contrast to the other groups of extant mammals, marsupials, and placentals, which have live births.

Along with egg-laying, the skeleton of the platypus is a throwback to its mammal-like reptile origin. The bones in its arms and legs, the humerus and femur, are set perpendicular to the trunk, giving the platypus a sprawling posture and a waddling gait on land. Marsupials and placentals have more upright postures with less waddling.

But where is the venom? If you look closely at the ankle of the male platypus, you will see a deadly looking weapon made of keratin, just like your fingernails. This tarsal spur sticks out from the body and sits on a small, flat bone—the os calcaris. The spur is hollow and connected to a gland below the knee that produces venom during the platypus breeding season. Because of this seasonal activity, the venom is thought to be used in male-male competition for females. 

For humans that make the mistake of picking up male platypuses at the wrong time of year, the venom is not deadly, but it is excruciatingly painful. One unfortunate soldier said it is worse than shrapnel! A small remnant of the spur is retained in juvenile female platypuses for only a few months after hatching, and the supporting bone, the os calcaris, without a spur occurs in the echidna. In recent years, tarsal spurs and support bones have been found in the fossil record for numerous groups of extinct primitive mammals that lived during the Age of Dinosaurs. Rather than being unique to the male platypus, venom manufactured in the leg may have been a widespread component of early mammalian weaponry for survival in the hostile Mesozoic landscape. Why this apparatus was lost in early marsupials and placentals is a mystery. One group, the bats, have reinvented a tarsal spur, where it is used in support of the wing membrane.


John Wible, PhD, is the curator of the Section of Mammals at Carnegie Museum of Natural History. John’s research is focused on the tree of life of mammals, understanding the evolutionary relationships between living and extinct taxa, and how the mammalian fauna on Earth got to be the way it is today. He uses his expertise on the anatomy of living mammals to reconstruct the lifeways of extinct mammals. John lives with his wife and two sons in a house full of cats and rabbits in Ross Township.

Pregnancy - physiology

Hormones

  • hCG - human chorionic gonadotropin - present in blood and urine, produced by blastocyst and placenta
  • Low levels of hCG could mean miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, miscalculation of dates
  • High levels = molar pregnancy (cells that normally form a baby dysfunction and form cysts instead), multiple pregnancy (twins etc), miscalculation of dates
  • Progesterone increases fat deposition in early weeks and stimulates appetite
  • Increased oestrogen from corpus luteum promotes mammary gland development (breasts enlarge)
  • And inhibits ovulation via negative feedback [OES decreases GnRH release by hypothalamus –> linhibition of FHS and LH –> no ovulation]
  • Relaxin (secreted by corpus luteum) softens connective tissue in preparation for labour - not specific, all joints can be affected
  • Peaks in early and late pregnancy

Physical changes

Blood pressure

  • As early as 4 weeks into pregnancy 
  • plasma volume increase
  • caused by the affects of oestrogen and progesterone on the kidneys

OES and Prg cause vasodilation 

  • less resistance = less pressure
  • Heart rate increases by 25% to compensate
  • stroke volume increases 
  • increased overall cardiac output by 50% in third trimester

Direct action of enlarged uterus:

  • compresses the descending aorta and inferior vena cava 
  • decreased venous return - less blood in means less blood out, less blood in ventricle –> reduced pressure on walls –> reduced force to exit –> reduced placental perfusion
  • increased aortic pressure
  • increased heart rate
  • [shouldn’t sleep on back for this reason]

Outcomes:

  • Fall in blood pressure (can cause collapse if serious)
  • Can cause foetal hypoxia even without mother symptoms

Haematological changes

  • red cell mass increase by 20% (renal - increased erythropoietin production in response to detection of blood oxygenation and sodium/water balance)
  • Plasma volume increases more than RBC count does, causing the impression of decreased haemoglobin (anaemia)
  • Increased tendency to clot (hypercoagulable)
  • due to increase in clotting factors and plasma fibrinogen
  • platelet production increase (however count drops due to increase in activity and consumption) - function remains normal]
  • WBC count may increase due to an increase in granulocytes

Respiratory changes

  • Increased chest diameter, diaphragmatic expression and elevation
  • dyspnoea common (difficulty breathing)
  • breathing becomes more costal (mouth) than abdominal 
  • mainly mediated by progesterone levels (cause bronchial and smooth muscle relaxation and hypersensitivity to CO2)

Changes to the urinary system

  • cardiac output increase –> increase in renal plasma flow and glomerular filtration
  • increase in urea, creatinine, urate and biocarbonate clearance 
  • with progesterone, renin and aldosterone up water retention increases
  • can lead to urinary stasis and increased risk of UTI
  • Any drugs given that are excreted renally must be given in much higher quantities consequently

Gastrointestinal changes

  • Appetite increase + cravings 
  • Gastric reflux sphincter relaxation (increased indigestion, also due to increased intra-gastric pressure (expanding uterus)) 
  • gallbladder dilated 
  • GI motility decreased and transit time slower 
  • albumin and protein decrease 
  • cholesterol twice normal value

Muskuloskeletal 

  • Calcium reuptake into bloodstream results in mild decalcification of bones 
  • relaxin softens joints (pubic symphysis + alters gait (waddling))
  • abdominal muscles stretch to elastic limit 
  • stretch marks (stria gravidarum) caused by rupture of elastic fibres and small blood vessels 

Reproductive changes

  • Massive increase in mass
  • Placenta growth (nutrition, excretion, immunity, endocrine) 

Parental blood supply 

Escape:  the residency years

Warning:  This isn’t the happiest of chapters.

Special thanks to @joannclelia for her help. And to anon for the ending advice.



“What have ye for lunch then?”  

She turned the phone around to show him her tray.  Pasta, of course.  An orange.  Spinach salad.  Good.  Bottle of water.  Then, just on the edge of her tray…

“Claire.  What was that?”  

She flipped the phone back to her face.  “What was what, darling? You can see I have a very healthy lunch, and I’m sitting down, relaxing while I eat.  With Louise,” she turned the phone towards her companion, a pretty nurse with long brown hair.

“Right there!  Is that a brownie?”  He could hear her giggle, and say shhhh.

Her face was barely straight as she looked him.  “No.  That’s Louise’s, not mine.”

“Non, ce n’est pas le mien!” Jamie heard the indignant voice out of view. 

“Sassenach, I ken ye like the French pastries, but come on.  Ye had a pain au chocolat at breakfast, now this. Last night, some cake.  How about ye not give birth to a diabetic, eh?”  

Claire smiled, and blew him a kiss.  “No pudding at dinner tonight.  Promise.” 

Jamie nodded, pursed his lips, and blew a kiss back.  “Enjoy yer lunch.  I’ll speak wi’ ye later.  Take it easy, okay?”

“I will.” Claire said, as she waved at her screen.

“I love you, mo neighean donn.  Give the bairn a kiss from his Da.” 

“You mean her.”  Claire kissed her fingers and pressed them on her bump. “Love you, too, Jamie,” she said, and disconnected.

When it was time to go back, Claire gathered up her tray, and stood.  

She looked at her chair in confusion.  There was a large mark on her seat. What had she spilled?  

It wasn’t until she heard Louise’s gasp that she realized something was wrong. 

She felt the sticky wetness on her scrubs, but couldn’t really see past her belly.

A moment later she felt the rush of something between her legs.  She could smell the blood.  

Her tray dropped to the floor, bouncing off the end of the table on its way down, shattering everything.  

Far away someone was screaming.

It was her. 


“I just talked to her.  I just talked to her at lunch.  She was fine.  I just saw her.” Jamie kept repeating the same thing.  He sat in one of the chairs in front of her desk, tears in his eyes, bewildered, confused.  

Jenny catapulted into action.  She snapped a finger at her assistant, pointing. The woman already had the phone receiver in her hand.  “I need Ian, here, right now.  For Jamie.  Alec needs to bring the car around right away.  And get a private plane ready to leave for Paris immediately.  Charge the company.”  

“You,” she pointed at Willie, “come with me.”  Willie, who had shown up with Jamie, was pale and panicked.  He stepped into line with her as she strode down the hall.  “We need Jamie’s passport, and -”

“Oh! I have it.  All of Jamie’s travel documents are in his office.” Willie was glad he had that, at least. 

“Good.  Now, gather all that up and, listen carefully, ye need to get his art supplies.”  Jenny stopped, and put a hand on Willie’s arm.  “He draws when he’s stressed.  He’ll need the distraction.  Get it all together and give it to Ian.” She pushed him forward, “Now go!”

Willie streaked off to do her bidding.

Jenny had Alec drive at break neck speed to Jamie and Claire’s flat.   She threw what she could into a bag, jeans, tee shirts, a few socks, trainers, jacket. She threw some things in for Claire as well.  Soft sleep pants and a softer sweater.  Toiletries.  Where the hell was his underwear!?!  She opened a top drawer and rummaged around.  

The small gold object caught her eye.  She hadn’t seen it in years. Instinctively, she grabbed it, and slamming the drawer shut, turned to go.  She was in and out of the flat in 15 minutes.  

Ian and Jamie were waiting inside the small terminal when she got there.  Her brother was turning his phone over and over in his large hands.  She put the bag next to his feet in silence.    

When the flight was ready, Jenny walked Jamie to the steps.  Ian handed the steward the bag.    

“Jenny, I-“

“Shhhh, brother.”  She grabbed Jamie around his shoulders and hugged him tight.  His arms gripped her as he buried his face in her neck.  God, he was burrowing in like Wee Jamie after he’s fallen off his bike. She had no words for him.  She would not lie and tell him it would be all right.  Lord only knew what was happening in France.  “Give Claire a hug for me, and tell her I love her.” Jamie nodded against her neck.  She turned quickly and gave him a kiss on his temple.  

Grabbing his hand, she pressed the small oval piece into his palm.  “I found this.  Take it.  Let it give ye strength.”  

Jamie looked at it, eyes wide.

“Go on,” Jenny said.  “Call me as soon as you know something.”

Jamie let go, wiped his eyes with the back of his hand and nodded, looking at the tarmac the whole time.  

He turned towards the plane, but found himself in a hard embrace.  Ian gripped his brother-in-law, and friend tightly.  No words were exchanged. Whatever one needed, the other would give.  They had been through too much together, their bond understood.  Ian was the one person who knew exactly what Jamie was thinking and feeling.  

How life could change in the blink of an eye.

How you could be whole, and happy, feeling right with the world, and then have your heart and mind shattered like the cracks in a windshield after a crash, spreading out in front of you until you can’t see anything of the world at all. Just fragments.  Fractures.  Shattered pieces.  Or worse yet, missing.  

Jamie sat alone on the plane looking out of the window as Scotland disappeared below him.  He still had the token from Jenny in his hand.  He closed his fist around it, hard, and looked out at the clouds surrounding him. He raised his eyes higher, heavenward.  Lord that she may be safe. She and the child.  


It was all over when he arrived.  

He was ushered to a waiting room, and made to sit by himself.  Finally, a small toad-like man entered, and introduced himself as Dr. Raymond.  His first thought was, Claire said ye looked like a frog.  She wasna wrong.  Jamie’s mouth lifted in half a smile as he stood to extend his hand to the doctor.  

Raymond explained that Claire was currently receiving some units of blood to replace what she’d lost.  Once assured Claire would be fine, Jamie had asked about his child.  

The wee man barely came up to the centre of Jamie’s chest, yet his words had the power to knock him backwards, stumbling into a chair.   

His child was mort-nè.  

Still born.  

Jamie felt fragile, paper thin, like velum, that if he moved too fast or spoke to loudly he would tear in half.   

“Your wife suffered a placental abruption.  This is when the placental lining separates from the uterus.  Sometimes the mother does not feel anything, and sometimes she feels, maybe, some pain in the back.  Unfortunately, the infant was not receiving enough oxygen in utero, so….” The doctor paused, then said in his heavy French accent, “I am sorry for your loss, Monsieur.”

Jamie nodded, and swallowed.  His emotions were so raw, he found himself unable to speak.  His thoughts were a tangle, like a net cast out to sea and caught on a rocky shore.  Fear wrapped itself around his gut, making him wonder if this was, somehow, his fault.  

“Can I ask ye a question?” Jamie said.

Dr. Raymond blinked slowly, and nodded once.    

“Is this my fault?  Should I – “ Jamie stopped.  It was difficult to talk of personal things, private things.  

He thought back to the night before she left, how he drove into his wife, hard and fast, angry that she was leaving, desperate to have her knowing he would miss her, with fear in his veins over their impending separation. More like making a point, than making love. He would rather die than to have been the one to cause the tear.

He gathered his courage, began again.  “The last time, when I had, well, sex with my wife…should I have been gentler?  Maybe….maybe been more considerate of her…of her….condition?”  

The physician simply shook his head, and said quite bluntly, “No, Monsieur. That is not the cause.  You are a fine husband.  It is not possible.”  

Absolved of his sin, Jamie sat back in the chair and exhaled.

But that didn’t absolve Claire.  Jamie took a deep breath, then said what was on his mind next, a thought that was eating at him like a corrosive.  

“I never wanted her to come, ye see.  She…Claire…she doesna do things in half measure, ye ken.  I worried she’d overdo.  So.”  He looked Dr. Raymond straight in the eye, and asked, “Did she?  Did she do too much?  On her feet all hours?  Not stopping, or getting proper rest?” 

Jamie rubbed his hands together, trying to warm them.  He felt ice cold to the marrow of his bones.  “Tell me she rested.  Tell me she took care, that this wasna her fault, either,” he whispered, ashamed, “because I don’t…I don’t want to hate my wife.”  

Dr. Raymond looked at this red man.  The aura around him.  He would fight to the death for the things he loved.  Raymond understood he was fighting now. Fighting for the love that was being consumed by his fear.

“Monsieur Fraser, I can tell you that many times the cause is unknown. Sometimes the placenta does not attach in a place that provides adequate support, and it may not develop appropriately, or it may separate as it grows.” The little man leaned forward in an effort to reassure Jamie, “I can tell you that Dr. Fraser was not reckless or foolish.  Anyone could see that the child in her womb came first.”

The door opened then, and the young nurse he’d seen from Claire’s video called for the doctor. He couldn’t follow all of her rapid French, but when Dr. Raymond jumped up, Jamie instinctively followed.  

He stepped inside the room.  Claire’s room.  A Dhia, she looked so pale.  She was as stark a white as the hospital linens, the dark of her hair like an ink blot on the pillow.  Her arm thin, slack, even though the deep red liquid flowing through the tube in her arm was promising life.  

He understood a few words.  Fever.  Infection.  

Jamie watched in shock as the little man laid his hands on Claire.  Her shoulders, her arms.  Murmuring in French the entire time.  He sent the nurse for another drip, and she scurried out of the room hardly sparing Jamie a glance.  He flinched as the doctor ran his hands over Claire’s breasts, and down her torso, lightly but touching her all the same.  The healer then placed his hands over his wife’s womb, and Claire writhed in pain.  

More blood.  Jesus, God, how could there be so much blood.

And then, his name.

Ripped from Claire.  In pain.  In desperation.  Like a magnet, it drew him.  It was strange, how his name dragged from her remaining strength reverberated in his soul.  He took a step towards her before he’d realized he’d moved, and found himself stopped with a vise grip on his arm.  He turned to find a large woman, Hildegard according to the name tag, telling him, “Vous devez partir, Monsieur.”


When she woke up she was a bit disoriented.  Memory surfaced.  Grief washed over her like a tidal wave.  For a moment she could not breathe.  

Turning her head she saw her 6’4” husband folded into a tiny chair beside her bed.  She had no memory of his arrival. 

He was sketching.  He looked tired, wan, pale.  His eyes darting over his drawing as his big hand moved in strong sure strokes.  

“Do you hate me for it, Jamie?” she whispered, wanting to know.  Her biggest fear, that Jamie would blame her.  What was more pain?  Better to roll it all into one great big ball of grief, and deal with it.

He jumped.  “Didna realize ye were awake, Sassenach.”  Jamie set down his computer.  

Claire relaxed at the use of her nickname.  

“Jamie, I’m so sorry.  So very, very sorry.  I put myself before our family.  This is all my fault.”  

“Shhh, mo neighean donn.  Yer a doctor, ye ken well it’s no’ yer fault.”  Jamie moved his chair closer to her bed, and took one small, weak, long-fingered hand in his two large ones. Tears slipped from her eyes at his gentleness.  

Jamie didn’t have any words.  There was nothing to say.   He couldn’t fix what happened.  He couldn’t change the loss.  He could just share it.  

They sat like that for some time.  Glancing at each other.  Letting their hands speak for them, thumbs stroking, fingers squeezing, softly rubbing.  Jamie’s thumb touched her ring from time to time.  

Finally, Claire spoke.  “I want to see her.”


“My wife,” Jamie stopped.  Cleared his throat.  “My wife wants to see our child.” He stood in front of the nurses’ station, hands clenched into balls at his side, standing as tall as he could.

“Ce n’est pas possible, Monsieur,” said Nurse Hildegarde.  It wasn’t the answer Jamie wanted.  He had been powerless to this point.  This, however, he would control.  

“I didna ask yer permission.  I didna say can she, I said she wants to.  So she doesna have to imagine.”  He willed himself not to raise his voice, to keep his anger in check.  

The young nurse, Louise, looked up at him.  She looked at her superior. Stand-offs like this were rare.  Usually no one questioned Nurse Hildegard. Everyone stopped to look at the large, grieving, red haired man.  Nurse Hildegarde opened her mouth to speak again, but caught sight of the little practitioner behind Monsieur Fraser.

“Soeur Hildegard. Presénter l’enfant à Dr. et M. Fraser.  Vous avez ma permission.”   


Claire was sitting up in bed when he entered the room.  The bundle in his arms was so tiny.  A pink blanket.   As he came nearer she could see the tiny face peeking through.  Sleeping.  No, Claire remembered, not sleeping.  

“Her hair,” Jamie said, smiling sadly, “she’s got my hair.”

Claire raised her arms for the baby, and Jamie gently handed her their child as if handling fragile glass.  There was that awkward bobble of a new dad not sure what he’s doing to a new mom too eager to hold her baby.  They both chuckled at that.  Jamie sat on the edge of the bed, his arm around his wife, the other under her arms that held the baby.  They stayed like that, silently, as Claire unwrapped parts of their bairn, counting ten fingers, and ten toes. Stroking the luminescent skin.  She chuckled at the tiny ears, which stuck out a bit, like Jamie’s.  He nudged her in understanding, chuffed.  So beautiful.

And then Claire began to sing.

When Nurse Louise came in an hour later she was moved by the tableau before her.  Her friend, Claire, rocking slowly, humming.  Jamie, her husband, sitting stoic beside her.  Neither taking their eyes from their child.  

She approached the bed. 

“Ma Chere, Claire.  Il est temps.”

When Louise left the room closing the door behind her, Claire thoroughly and completely went to pieces.  

Jamie held his wife across his lap.  

And did the same.


Sitting on the private plane to go home Claire looked out the window at the terminal traffic.  Everyone so busy, oblivious to the people they were shuttling on to planes, the bags they were loading, the lives they were moving along. Jamie sat beside her, holding her hand.  They spoke little.  She still couldn’t believe they were alone on this plane.  Jamie insisted.  He said he’d had enough of strangers.  

“I don’t want to forget her face,” Claire whispered, head back, curls pressed against the head rest.  “I’m afraid I’ll forget her face.”

Jamie let go of her hand.  “I ken it may be strange.  I’m sorry if it bothers ye. But I had to,” he said, quietly, apologetically.  He fumbled in his pocket.  “For Jenny.  For my sister.  She would want to see, ye ken.  She’s all I’ve got for family, other than you, Claire.”

There, on his phone screen, looking as if she was sleeping peacefully, was Faith Elizabeth Fraser. 


One year later

They walked slowly through the cemetery.  Jamie’s hands deep in his pockets, as he did when he was nervous.  Claire’s arms were crossed in front of her, as she did when she was nervous, a bouquet of tulips gripped in her hand.  They walked as if they really didn’t want to arrive at their destination, lost in their own thoughts, steps hesitant.  

It was the first time they would visit her grave.  One year to the day when she passed.  

“She should be over here.”  Jamie hung back and let Claire step up first.
Claire’s gasp was audible from where he stood.  She dropped to her knees, and laid a hand reverently on the stone.  A stone.  She hadn’t expected a stone.  They hadn’t ordered one.  She expected a simple marker, not this beautiful, pale pink granite slab. 

Jamie crouched beside her.  He cleared his throat.  “A Da can only give what he can to his bairn.  I’m an artist.  So.  I gave her a resting place, wit’ her name and our names, and placed her in the care of her grandparents.  Yers and mine.”  He brushed a leaf off the corner of the stone.  “And I left a bit of Scotland wi’ her.”

She traced the tiny gold medal imbeded in the stone under Faith’s name. “What is this?”

“It’s St. Andrew,” Jamie said.  “My father used to carry the medal around in his pocket. It would remind him to pray, to ask for intercession when he needed it. It became mine.  Jenny gave it to me when I left for France.  When I ordered the stone I gave it to them, along with the design.”  

They stayed for a long time, holding hands, lost in their own thoughts.  
Jamie stood, and pulled his wife to her feet.  Wrapping his arms around her shoulders he buried his face in her sweet smelling curls.  The sun shone warm on their faces, as Jamie swayed from side to side.

“So.  Now would be a good time to tell me something, Claire Fraser,” he said, next to her ear.  “Anything ye like.”  

Claire butted backwards and hit her husband in the crotch.  He let out a soft “oof” and laughed.

“I have nothing to say, James Fraser,” she said, in her haughtiest tone.   

“Hmpf,” Jamie made a Scottish noise, and turned Claire around to face him. “Yer sure, then?”  

Claire stood on tiptoes and kissed her husband full on the lips. “Five days is not a long time, you know that.”

“Aye, but yer never late.”  He grinned at her.  “It’s fine, Sassenach.  I’ll wait. Besides,” he said softly, “I have you.  And faith.”  

Identical Quadruplets Every Time

by John Wible

Armadillos are placental mammals that first appeared in the fossil record in South America 60 million years ago. Today, there are 21 species, only one of which is found in North America—the nine-banded armadillo, Dasypus novemcinctus.

All armadillos have a protective shell, or carapace, made of bony plates in the skin. These osteoderms not only cover the trunk, but the head, limbs, and, except for the naked-tail armadillo, even the tail. Armadillo in Spanish means “little armored one,” but the Aztec name is more descriptive, translating to “turtle-rabbit.” The carapace of the nine-banded armadillo has two major shields, one at the shoulders and the other at the pelvis, connected by a series of overlapping bands, which provide some degree of flexibility. As you can guess from its name, there are usually nine such bands in Dasypus novemcinctus (as in the mother pictured here), but this varies from seven to 10. The underbelly is not similarly protected with osteoderms, but the skin is tough and leathery.

The evolution and biology of the nine-banded armadillo, the state small mammal of Texas, have fascinated me for years. However, because we just celebrated Mother’s Day, I want to comment on the amazing armadillo mother. Dasypus novemcinctus is the only vertebrate that gives birth to identical quadruplets every time! A female produces a single egg that, once fertilized, splits into four genetically identical embryos that share one placenta. How and why this unique pattern evolved and continues to be maintained is a mystery. We usually consider genetic diversity a plus for organisms with multiple births as it increases the chances that some offspring will survive in an ever-changing environment, but the nine-banded armadillo bucks this by producing clones.

Other than making milk for her young, the nine-banded armadillo mother is not particularly attentive, and the father is even less so. Yet, perhaps her major role is providing sufficient nutrition for her young to grow and prosper. Building a bony carapace requires extra nutrients, primarily calcium, and phosphate. Although ossification of the osteoderms begins in utero, you can imagine that birth (of four babies no less!) is facilitated by them having a thin and flexible carapace, that is, one that is not fully formed. Indeed, thankfully, most of the carapace’s development occurs after birth.

The armadillo mother makes this all happen largely on an insectivorous diet, a generally poor source of calcium. Add to that, armadillos have a lower metabolic rate than most mammals. Somehow, despite these perceived handicaps, the young born at 100 grams (less than a quarter pound) grow rapidly and are able to forage for themselves at two months. How the armadillo mother is able to do all this for her four identical babies is as mysterious as how she had four identical babies in the first place.


John Wible, PhD, is curator of mammals at Carnegie Museum of Natural History. He studies the evolutionary history of mammals and lives in a house full of them, some human (wife and two sons) and some non-human (cats, rabbits, and guinea pigs).

anonymous asked:

Can you do a Cassian and Reader headcanon with Reader going into labor and maybe some complications (but everything ends up okay!) and cassians fear?!

Never done a head canon before but here goes nothing! x

  • When you go into labor, Cassian is extremely nervous, but he manages to keep a calm, collected composure—more for your sake rather than his of course. 
  • He stands by your side, holds your hand, and he coaches you, reminding you to breathe through the pain that you’re feeling. Even though it’s been hours since you went into labor, Cassian doesn’t dare to leave your side for anything.
  • At first, everything seems to be going well. Both you and the baby are in perfect health according to the holographic screen above your bed in the medical bay. It’s monitoring your vital signs, the baby’s vital signs, and it’s also timing your contractions. It signals that another contraction is on its way any second now and you take a deep breath, bracing yourself for the pain.
  • Instantly, you know something is horribly wrong when you feel a sharp, shooting pain in your lower back. You let out a scream as the sensation intensifies and Cassian clutches your hand, telling you to breathe through the pain. You manage to tell him that whatever you are feeling, it isn’t a contraction and that something’s gone wrong.
  • The holographic screen above your bed flashes red, and not only is your heart rate dropping, but the baby’s heart rate is dropping too. Severely. A medical droid rushes in with two human nurses behind it. 
  • The droid informs Cassian that you’ve had a placental abruption, and that they have to take you to the surgical ward so they can deliver the baby by emergency caesarean. If they don’t, both you and the baby could lose your lives.
  • Cassian can’t go into the surgical ward with you and must stay behind and wait until the operation is over. 
  • During your operation, Cassian is absolutely terrified. He’s never been this terrified over anything in his entire life. Kaytoo tries to comfort him, assuring him that with the proper treatment, both you and the baby have high chances of survival. 
  • The wait is unbearable. Every second feels like an eternity.
  • When one of the nurses finally tells Cassian that the operation is over and that you and the baby are okay, he breaks down in tears of pure relief.
  • He immediately asks to see you.
  • When Cassian walks into the room and sees you, he rushes over to you and takes your hand in his. He kisses you and tells you over and over again how much he loves you. He then asks you about the baby.
  • You smile and tell him to turn around.
  • Behind him, another nurse is holding your newborn baby in her arms.
  • Cassian is in shock for a split second.
  • He quickly shakes it off and squeezes your hand tightly as the nurse asks him if he would like to hold his son.
  • SON 
  • HE HAS A SON
  • Cassian takes him from the nurse and cradles him gently in his arms.
  • He gingerly kisses his soft cheek. He’s grateful to the maker of the galaxy that you’re okay and that his son is absolutely perfect.

Hopefully it wasn’t too bad!

Lost (Lin x Reader)

AN: another short one, but school. There will be at least one more part.

Tag Crew: @huffleheyguys @artisticgamer @theoverlordofeverything @hmltntrsh51 @iamnotthrowingawaymyshit2 @hamilton4starwars @megabooklover18

Request: Anonymous- 13 with Lin thx love ya13. “I lost our baby.”

Warning: death mention 

Word Count: 1,140

Masterlist

You got home and collapsed on the couch after what was roughly your five thousandth doctor’s appointment over the last eight and a half months. Since you left school for maternity leave, earlier than you would have liked, but Lin insisted, all you had were trips to the doctor and sub plans to check over obsessively. It wasn’t until now that you realized just how much time your husband spent at the theater. With him around, it wasn’t so bad, but you didn’t want to get in the way of the multitude of other projects he had or keep him for what little sleep he did get, so it was really just him in your general vicinity to help you be a little more at peace. He would do more to help if you had let him, but he had so much else to worry about that you felt guilty when he focused on you.

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Newton’s Third Law (1/1)

Newton’s Third Law

Rating: T

“Who the hell sends a pregnant lady on a scavenger hunt?!”


Henry is the one who shows him.

Emma makes sure Killian has all the pragmatic knowledge of the 21st century (showers, cell phones, google, photographs, the microwave) and fills him in on contemporary culture via Thursday movie nights with her kid, her pirate, and herself bundled up with pizza and Netflix.

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It’s no secret that my pregnancy did NOT go as planned.

I had high hopes to exercise continually throughout the process of growing my girl. I wanted to progress (or at least not digress!). I wanted to be a “fit mom” and a good role model. A success story!

It’s frustrating how things can turn into something completely different.

Ten weeks into our pregnancy, I started bleeding. A month after that, I was diagnosed with Chronic Placental Abruptions and was classified as a “high-risk” pregnancy. The bleeding and cramping only progressed. It was so bad, that I was bedridden for the entire month of September.

The cramping slowed down (thankfully), but the bleeding only continued to get worse. My baby was unharmed, but my body was a mess. I was forbidden to do anything active besides light walking. No exercise of any kind. No sex. No fun!

I was constantly tired and weak from the loss of blood. A flight of stairs would knock me out, and I spent most of my days in bed.

On December 8th, I stood up and a huge rush of blood poured out my body. I rushed to labor and delivery, where they discovered I was dilated to 2cm and 75% effaced. They immediately threw me into an ambulance and sent me to a hospital that was better equipped to handle premature babies.

I was barely 24 weeks along.

The goal was to keep baby girl inside for as long as possible. Each passing day brought huge developmental milestones, so every moment was critical to her survival.

On December 16th, she decided to jump into the world. I was rushed into surgery for an emergency c-section at 8:50 am. She joined our family at 9:26 am- 25 weeks & 5 days along, 2 lbs, 13 inches long, and as beautiful as could be.

The months following were just as frightening as that terrifying Friday. Each day brought on new challenges and medical hurdles.

Thankfully, our girl has fought through each one.

We hope to have her home with us by the end of this month- an anxiously anticipated homecoming! Alas, only time will tell.

With all the stress of the NICU life, it’s no surprise that my routines were completely shattered. My life was in survival mode, and my health was tossed aside. Now that things are relatively stable, it’s time to put my health back into focus and take care of ME.

Welcome back to WEEK ONE.

We took turns exchanging earthquakes in the bathroom
               Kiss me, New Mexico - the tattoo of el diablo
               Spanning her back, knocking on strangers doors
               Because every house looks the same
Silhouette Sophia, a gold dust turned flush when the sky
Parodies the value that paints her mouth

               A placental abruption / one stanza memorized
From the bible, only spoken in Spanish and congregated like a
Love poem passing from one fingerprint to the next

It’s written all over her freckles, a constellation fish and cheap cerveza
Accented with finger-sucking Tajin she transfers to my mouth; no one
                Knew she could play the cello, or liked to break into her fathers
House and steal his shoes - out of spite, she never finished anything
Other than an orgasm        but her vocals were versatile and hum like lush gossip
                                   
I saw things I’ve never seen again - a crescent moon waist with doubts
and disability, abandoned and palpitating, 102 degrees of afterglow,

                       She still smells like her grandmothers kitchen.


Seneca Basoalto | Poetry & Prose

angelicuscadere  asked:

For a sentient specie of omnivorous raptors (think feathered dino) with social complexity, technology and population density similar to humans ~300 years ago, what would be the most prominent health issues for the common folk?

I’m using birds and alligators as references for most things anatomy, so what would be avian/crocodilian equivalent to fleas, flu, cholera, measles, or other highly contagious and common ailments? (They have both feathers and scales)  They have had little to no contact with any large mammals over the course of their evolution - upon contact with mammals (including humans), would that make them less or more susceptible to be affected by human illness, or a random mix? I know this is very broad so I’m not expecting a detailed answer - I was just hoping you could give me some pointers as to what kind of diseases to investigate and inspire myself from.   Thank you! I really love your script blog! :)

—————————————–       

Yay raptors! I hope you like info-dumps.

Originally posted by gifovea

If I assume a similar medical scene to the 1700-1800′s, I’d first broadly group the common diseases into parasitic, bacterial, viral and fungal. Most of these species don’t congregate in terribly large numbers, except in farms and fortunately for your writing, both birds and crocodiles are bred on farms in large numbers to give you disease examples that are probably common at high densities with sub-optimal hygiene. I will link to other sites for the most interesting ones.

Parasites are the group that were extremely common before effective medication, and also the most externally obvious. They’re also potential vectors for the other groups, to spread disease from one raptor to another (think about how mosquitoes do this today).

External parasites are your equivalent to fleas. Avians can get fleas, but mites and lice are far more common. Almost all wild birds are harboring some kind of feather lice. Reptiles commonly get ticks. Scaly leg mite might give you inspiration for a suitably interesting looking disease.

Internal parasites get a bit more variable, depending on the internal anatomy of your raptor species. Almost everything can get intestinal worms (because almost everything has intestines). Where exactly in the intestines they live will depend on anatomy, and young won’t get any placental transmission from their mother if they lay eggs. Worms like Heterakis can transmit other diseases to certain species too.

Birds get respiratory parasites, which are quite unique. Air sac mites may be relevant if your raptors have them, and gapeworm is one of my personal favorites. (Yes, I have favorite parasites. I’m not weird.)

Moving onto bacterial diseases, Cholera was a big killer of humans, and poultry have Fowl Cholera of their own. Botulism toxin kills a lot of birds that congregate around waterways, but interestingly birds and reptiles seem very resistant to tetanus.

Gut pathogens like salmonella are common in reptiles and birds, and are not species specific. These things can get into just about anything, but they are often host adapted. This means the usual species they infect doesn’t get as severe pathology as a new species. This may be relevant for your mammals who encounter this species, as it’s commonly spread by poor hygiene practices.

Psittacosis is a bacterial disease that you should definitely look into. It can affect both humans and parrots, and can be lethal in both. It was historically something of a mystery disease for a while, and worth reading about.

Most species (honestly, probably all species but we haven’t bothered to look) have a poxvirus of their own. Some of these poxviruses will cross species (eg goats and sheep) and will vary in how virulent they are (smallpox vs chickenpox). They hang around in the environment for a really long time and are difficult to exterminate. Your species probably has one, but despite the name not all poxviruses present with pox on the skin.

If your species is feathered, then Psittacine Beak and Feather Disease is simply fascinating and visually dramatic. It’s a chronic disease and may fill a similar social role as leprosy

Influenza viruses commonly affect many species of birds and will also potentially cross over to humans or other mammals. Human and mammal influenza can also cross over into birds. When you get an influenza type into a ‘new’ species, death rates are typically higher.

Most concerning, however, is when you have two different influenza strains infect the same individual, recombine by infecting the same cell, and then by chance produce a totally new strain of influenza which may then infect any species that could have been infected by either parent virus. Immunity to on strain of influenza offers little protection against another.  This is why bird flu outbreaks are such a concern.

I noticed you said no contact with large mammals over their evolution. If they’re farming, what’s eating their stored food? Rats are common and disease vectors to boot, if they have no rats, what do they have instead? Something will be taking advantage of food stores, and will be relevant to the diseases in the population.

And I don’t know if you considered it, but crocodillians tend to be cannibalistic. If they are, then you could potentially have a tapeworm species that spends it’s entire life cycle within this species. It matures and drops cysts in the intestine of one individual, those cysts are eaten by a second individual (faecal contamination of food most likely), then forming cysts in muscle or meat tissue, and when the 2nd individual is eaten by a 3rd individual, those cysts mature into the adult tapeworm to live inside their intestine, and the cycle begins again. There may also be a prion disease, though they are rare.

Je veux aller me perdre dans les musées parisiens. Ne plus trouver la sortie. Et m'endormir sur un de ces quelques bancs, qu'ils placent devant les toiles gigantesques.
Et recommencer là où je m'étais arrêtée.
—  Je serai une squatteuse de luxe.
Lullaby-Part 9 (Conclusion)

Summary: Dean and you deal with the aftermath…Just read it, I don’t want to give anything away. ( PART ONE ) ( PART TWO) (PART THREE) (PART FOUR) (PART FIVE) (PART SIX) (PART SEVEN) (PART EIGHT)

Prompt: inspired by @deanwinchesterxreader

Characters: Dean, Sam, Reader

Pairings: Dean X Reader

Word Count: 2000

Warnings: Language, ANGST, DEATH, pregnancy!complications, Depression, self-hate

A/N: Hope you enjoy! I’m really sorry…ANGST and TRIGGERING  Please know that I am warning you now.Any feedback is appreciated, also if you wouldn’t mind liking and rebloging.I am so thankful for all y’all reading this series.


The inside of your nose feels dry and itchy, the stench of bleach filling your nostrils, everything smells too clean. There was a faint beeping and something was warm against your thigh. Your eyes didn’t want to open, lids heavy. What the hell was happening?

You force your eyes open, blinking frantically against the harsh white light. What was going on? You couldn’t remember anything besides going to bed with Dean. Where the hell?

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[right down to the second]

Because this is apparently a multi-chapter endeavor, now. You can read parts one and two on my tumblr. This part is less humorous than the previous ones – once you bring up dying in childbirth there’s really no way to steer that boat around. Part 3 out of ? Next parts may back track a bit to earlier in the day, though. WC ~1200, Series 6 spoilers. 


Cigarette smoke clung to his clothes when he walked in, but she hadn’t minded. The first years of their relationship he always smelled of laundry soap and antiseptic and tobacco, and she spent every embrace breathing him in. It comforts her now.

His hand brushes through her hair, thumbs rubbing gently over her temples. Not much longer, now, they both know. Not much longer. A woman in labor is a woman on the verge of death, was something a teacher of his repeated in his lectures when he was still just a trainee, when he still thought he would become a surgeon, or a consultant, before he was shipped to the front lines in Italy and after coming home, couldn’t face anything more than the front lines of poverty. A woman in labor is a woman on the verge of death. They’ve confronted it together, before. The long labor, the complicated delivery, the woman left in a pool of her own blood, or with a body seized and shaking.

They’ve already almost lost this baby once.

He’s already almost lost her once.

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2

I’m thrilled to share that my application for the Platypus Field Trip was successful! Next March I’ll be travelling to Tasmania with three of my vet school friends to capture and research these fascinating creatures. For the non-Aussies reading this, platypodes (that’s right, not platypi) are unique for a number of reasons:

  • Together with the echnida (another Australian native) they form an order of mammal called Monotremata. Rather than giving birth to live young like placentals or marsupials, monotremes lay eggs!
  • Their anatomy is incredibly odd. They have a duck-like bill, buoyant body, waterproof fur, webbed feet and ankle spurs.
  • The ankle spurs of males produce venom as a defence mechanism.
  • The snout is a sensory organ used for electrolocation of prey.
  • They have no stomach! The oesophagus joins straight to the intestines.
  • Platypodes are incredibly elusive creatures and sightings are rare.

If that list doesn’t excite your inner platypus enthusiast, I don’t know what will!
Vet trip #3 come at me!

~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 :) 

Les plaisirs sans fin du contact avec la nature ne sont pas réservés aux scientifiques, mais accessibles à tous ceux qui se placent sous l’influence de la terre, de la mer, du ciel, et de leur existence surprenante. (Rachel Carson)

Cellules du système immunologique : cellules qui combattent les maladies dans le corps ou pathogènes.

  • n°1 : Phagocyte en phase d’endocytose du pathogène. La cellule peut capter les virus ou les bactéries, les enveloppe avec deux bras - les pseudopodes - pour l’inclure en son sein : c’est l’endocytose. L’intrus est ensuite digéré par les sucs contenus dans des petites vésicules.
  • n°3 : Lymphocytes T cytotoxiques. Ils sont spécifiques, c’est à dire que chaque type de lymphocyte ne peut tuer qu’un type de pathogène. Les cytotoxiques éliminent les cellules infectées qui circulent dans le sang en les faisant exploser de l’intérieur avec des enzymes : c’est la cytolyse.
  • n°5 : Rien à voir avec l’immunologie, les hématies ou globules rouges circulent dans le sang et transportent l’oxygène nécessaire au fonctionnement des organes.
  • n°7 : Monocytes : voyagent dans le sang. Si le corps détecte une infection, les monocytes sortent des vaisseaux et se transforment en macrophages, des cellules capables de phagocyter les agents infectieux (voir n°1).
  • n°9 : Granulocytes : cellules capables de phagocytose aussi. Contient des granules digestives. A la particularité d’avoir un noyau en plusieurs lobes, donc aussi appelé polynucléaire - à tort.
  • n°11 : Lymphocyte B. Cellule spécifique qui peut se transformer si besoin en “usine” à anticorps.

Mitose : processus de duplication de la cellule en conservant le patrimoine génétique intacte de la cellule mère.

  • n°2 : cellule normale, avec membrane, noyau et cytoplasme. La base!
  • n°6 : Interphase. Phase ou la cellule grossie avant de se séparer en deux, et ses chromosomes se multiplient par deux.
  • n°4 : Prophase. Les parois du noyau éclate, et les chromosomes deviennent visibles au microscope.
  • n°10 : Métaphase : Les chromosomes se placent en centre de la cellule.
  • n°8 : Anaphase : Ils migrent ensuite aux pôles de la cellule de façon symétrique : on retrouve les mêmes chromosomes de part et d’autres de la cellule.
  • n°12 : Télophase : La cellule se sépare en deux et l’enveloppe du noyau se reforme sur les deux ensembles de chromosomes pour avoir deux cellules identiques.

J’adooore la biologie!