Some doodles of Math as a kid being blind as fuck, cuz he’s a bby and I don’t draw him enough. When he was a kid, no one knew he needed glasses, he was too timid to say that the reason he kept messing up everything he did was because he could barely see anything. And Math himself didn’t realize that he was practically blind, he thought most people saw the world as a bunch of vague blobs. So he got a reputation for being slow. (Mac was very protective of him, and always led him around. He probably didn’t realize what the problem was either, but they were much closer in those days and if Math needed him, Mac was always right there)


Many Little Wormy, Sluggy, Bloodsucky, Things…

Arthropods, especially beetles, are my thing. I tend to be less knowledgeable about the soft bodied terrestrial invertebrates like those in the images here, largely because they don’t leave a trace in the fossil record. That’s not to say I don’t take any notice of them. Indeed, it’s often hard to ignore them especially when lying flat of your belly in the leaf litter trying to get images of their distant relatives. I’ve had a leech or two, or two thousand. It’s made me a better person.

It is easy to think of things like leeches, flatworms, earthworms and slugs as ugly and uninteresting; that’s clearly far from reality and, although I reckon some of you would probably wet you pants if you had a leech on you (babies!), the leech in the first image IS actually beautiful. The flatworm (2), or perhaps more correctly land planarian (Fletchamia cf. mediolineata), is gorgeous as many of them are; they come in a veritable rainbow of flatworm beauty and can be a conspicuous component of the forest fauna, especially after rain. Earthworms (3) are critical components of the soil fauna and here in Victoria, Australia we have one of the largest in the world that can reach over 1 metre (3+ feet long). Finally we have a slug (Cystopelta sp.), well actually a semi-slug spotted and dotted with white and purple. Even slugs can be stunning beauties.

These images are all from the Dandenong Ranges National Park on the outskirts of Melbourne, Australia. Land of beautiful bloodsuckers…

Intestinal worms ‘talk’ to gut bacteria to boost immune system

EPFL researchers have discovered how intestinal worm infections cross-talk with gut bacteria to help the immune system.

Intestinal worms infect over 2 billion people across the world, mostly children, in areas with poor sanitation. But despite causing serious health problems, worms can actually help the immune system of its host as an indirect way of protecting themselves. The evidence for this is so strong that we are now testing worms for clinical benefits. However, very little is known about how worms interact with the host’s immune system. A new study by EPFL now shows that these effects go through the gut’s bacteria that help digestion. The work is published in Immunity.

Zaiss MM, Rapin A, Lebon L, Kumar Dubey L, Mosconi I, Sarter L, Piersigilli A, Menin L, Walker AW, Rougemont J, Paerewijck O, Geldhof P, McCoy KD, Macpherson A, Croese J, Giacomin PR, Loukas A, Junt T, Marsland BJ, Harris NL. The intestinal microbiota contributes to the ability of helminths to modulate allergic inflammation. Immunity 27 October 2015.

Caption: This is the helminth Heligmosomoides polygyrus bakeri (Hpb), which infects rodents. Here seen under fluorescent staining. Hpb was used in the mouse part of this study. Credit: Nicola Harris/EPFL


Six Pictures of Beautiful, Bizarre Worms That Slink Or Swim

“It was only a matter of time before the humble worm got its own day. July 1 is the first International Polychaete Day, and museums around the world—including the Australian Museum, London’s Natural History Museum, and the Smithsonian’s Natural History Museum—plan to celebrate the wonderful world of the worm.”

Happy Polychaete Day! See more cool pictures at National Geographic.   

When does aging really begin? Two Northwestern University scientists now have a molecular clue. In a study of the transparent roundworm C. elegans, they found that adult cells abruptly begin their downhill slide when an animal reaches reproductive maturity.

A genetic switch starts the aging process by turning off cell stress responses that protect the cell by keeping important proteins folded and functional. The switch is thrown by germline stem cells in early adulthood, after the animal starts to reproduce, ensuring its line will live on.

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