Tag Archives: Anatomy (Histology)

Discovery of organ explains koalas’ super-bass notes

Throat structure explains why male mating calls are bizarrely deeper than expected for the animal’s size. Male koalas produce a deep-pitched sound thanks in part to special folds that span an opening between their nasal and oral cavities. For such diminutive animals, male koalas have an uncannily deep voice. The pitch of their bellowing mating […]

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The origin of the turtle shell: Mystery solved

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A team of researchers from Japan has finally solved the riddle of the origin of the turtle shell. By observing the development of different animal species and confirming their results with fossil analysis and genomic data, researchers from the RIKEN Center for Developmental Biology show that the shell on the turtle’s back derives only from […]

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Whole human brain mapped in 3D

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Ten-year ‘BigBrain’ effort yields 10-trillion-byte atlas of fine-scale cerebral anatomy. Researchers used a special tool called a microtome cut a human brain preserved in paraffin wax into 20-micrometre thick slivers and map its anatomical structure with high resolution. An international group of neuroscientists has sliced, imaged and analysed the brain of a 65-year-old woman to […]

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Fish otoliths point to climate impacts

The earbones, or ‘otoliths’, help fish to detect movement and to orient themselves in the water. Otoliths set down annual growth rings that can be measured and counted to estimate the age and growth rates of fish. “Otoliths can form the basis of new techniques for modelling fish growth, productivity and distribution in future environments,” […]

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Elephants walk on the world’s biggest platform shoes

Even though an elephant’s leg looks like a solid column, it actually stands on tip-toe like a horse or a dog. Its heel rests on a large pad of fat that gives it a flat-footed appearance. The pad hides a sixth toe — a backward-pointing strut that evolved from one of their sesamoids, a set […]

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Koalas’ bellows boast about size

Koalas have a well-earned reputation for being dopey. Sleeping 19 hours out of every 24, and feeding for 3 of the remaining 5 hours, there doesn’t seem to be much time for anything else in their lethargic lifestyle: that is until the mating season. Then the males begin bellowing. Benjamin Charlton from the University of […]

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Bizarre reptile challenges notion of crocodiles as ‘living fossils’

We all know that crocodiles are reptiles with long snouts, conical teeth, strong jaws and long tails. But according to researchers at Stony Brook University in New York, we don’t know what we thought we knew. Rather, some crocodiles possessed a dazzling array of adaptations that resulted in unique and sometimes bizarre anatomy, including blunt, […]

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Blue whale-sized mouthfuls make foraging super efficient

How much can a blue whale eat in a single mouthful and how much energy do they burn while foraging? These are the questions that Bob Shadwick from the University of British Columbia, Canada, and his colleagues have asked. They discovered that blue whales can swallow almost 2,000,000kJ (almost 480,000kcalories) in a single mouthful of […]

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Dogs have bigger brains than cats because they are more sociable

Over millions of years dogs have developed bigger brains than cats because highly social species of mammals need more brain power than solitary animals, according to a study by Oxford University. For the first time researchers have attempted to chart the evolutionary history of the brain across different groups of mammals over 60 million years. […]

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The bigger the animal, the stiffer the ‘shoes’: Carnivores’ feet ‘tuned’ to their body size

If a Tiger’s feet were built the same way as a mongoose’s feet, they’d have to be about the size of a hippo’s feet to support the big cat’s weight. But they’re not. For decades, researchers have been looking at how different-sized legs and feet are put together across the four-legged animal kingdom, but until […]

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Natural ‘magnetometer’ in upper beak of birds?

Iron containing short nerve branches in the upper beak of birds may serve as a magnetometer to measure the vector of the Earth magnetic field (intensity and inclination) and not only as a magnetic compass, which shows the direction of the magnetic field lines. Several years ago, the Frankfurt neurobiologists Dr. Gerta Fleissner and her […]

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Tendons shape bones during embryonic development

In all vertebrates, including humans, bones, muscles and tendons work together to give the skeleton its characteristic balance of stability and movement. Now, new research uncovers a previously unrecognized interaction between tendons, which connect muscles to bones, and the developing embryonic skeleton. This study, published in the December 15th issue of the journal Developmental Cell, […]

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How accurate is patient’s anatomical knowledge: A cross-sectional, questionnaire study of six patient groups and general public sample

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Older studies have shown that patients often do not understand the terms used by doctors and many do not even have a rudimentary understanding of anatomy. The present study was designed to investigate the levels of anatomical knowledge of different patient groups and the general public in order to see whether this has improved over […]

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Dinosaur’s digits show how birds got wings

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Birds are generally considered to be the living descendants of dinosaurs, yet differences between bird wings and dinosaur hands have long left palaeontologists struggling to explain how birds would have evolved from their dinosaur ancestors. Birds’ wings are thought to form from the fusion of the second, third and fourth digits on their hands as […]

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Why wind turbines can mean death for bats

Power-generating wind turbines have long been recognized as a potentially life-threatening hazard for birds. But at most wind facilities, bats actually die in much greater numbers. Now, researchers reporting in Current Biology, a Cell Press journal, on August 26th think they know why. Ninety percent of the bats they examined after death showed signs of […]

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Ancient Komodo dragon has space-age skull

The fearsome Komodo dragon is the world’s largest living lizard and can take very large animal prey: now a new international study has revealed how it can be such an efficient killing machine despite having a wimpy bite and a featherweight skull. They note that the dragon — inhabiting the central Indonesian islands of Komodo, […]

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Reconstructing the biology of extinct species: A new approach

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An international research team has documented the link between the way an animal moves and the dimensions of an important part of its organ of balance, the three semicircular canals of the inner ear on each side of the skull. “We have shown that there is a fundamental adaptive mechanism linking a species’ locomotion with […]

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The sperm of several rodent species have scythe-shaped heads, which help them attach to other sperm

You don’t have to be a complete organism to take part in Darwinian evolution: Even sperm engage in the survival of the fittest. A new study indicates that the sperm of certain rodent species have evolved hook-shaped heads, apparently to beat each other to the egg. Sperm with better hooks are able to attach to […]

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Scientists crack rhino horn riddle

Rhinoceros horns have long been objects of mythological beliefs. Some cultures prize them for their supposed magical or medicinal qualities. Others have used them as dagger handles or good luck charms. But new research at Ohio University removes some of the mystique by explaining how the horn gets its distinctive curve and sharply pointed tip. […]

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Evolutionary oddity : Erectile tissue helps flamingos eat

Flamingos are known for their peculiar feeding behavior. While standing in shallow water, they bend their necks, tilt their bills upside down in the water and swish their heads from side-to-side. Their large tongue acts like a piston, sucking water into the front of the bill and then pushing it out the sides. Fringed plates […]

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Fingerprints may illuminate life in the womb

Fingerprints may provide important clues about life in the womb, and may even become useful as predictors of disease risk. US researchers, in Atlanta and New York, have now shown that differences in fingerprints between the thumb and little finger are associated with likelihood of developing diabetes later in life. A person’s fingerprints are set […]

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