New study exposes negative effects of climate change on Antarctic fish

Scientists at University of California Davis and San Francisco State University have discovered that the combination of elevated levels of carbon dioxide and an increase in ocean water temperature has a significant impact on survival and development of the Antarctic dragonfish (Gymnodraco acuticeps). The research article was published today in the journal Conservation Physiology. —> Read More

Panda Accused Of Faking Pregnancy To Get Better Food, Air Conditoning

Keepers at the Taipei Zoo were excited. Resident giant panda Yuan Yuan was exhibiting signs of pregnancy — an all-too-elusive event among captive pandas.

There were tell-tale symptoms, like a loss of appetite and a thickening of the uterus. Yuan Yuan’s fecal progesterone concentration was also on the rise.

Yet despite these promising signs, the panda’s pregnancy was a false alarm.

According to China’s Southern Metropolis Daily, ultrasound scans determined that Yuan Yuan, who was artificially inseminated earlier this year, was not pregnant. Now the panda is being accused of faking the pregnancy as a way of getting her caretakers to shower her with better food and care.

Pregnant pandas are typically treated like queens. As China Daily notes, the expectant bears are moved into “single rooms with air conditioning” and given “round-the-clock care.” They receive more buns, fruit and bamboo as well.

Panda experts have speculated that Yuan Yuan, who gave birth to a cub in 2013, may have been feigning pregnancy to reap these added benefits.

Last year, another female panda named Ai Hin was accused of trying to pull the same trick. The panda, who lives at the Chengdu Research Base of Giant Panda Breeding, exhibited pregnancy symptoms for two months before experts determined that she didn’t actually have a cub in the oven.

“After showing prenatal signs, the [panda] ‘mothers-to-be’ are [pampered],” Wu Kongju, an expert at the Chengdu Research Base, told CNN last year. “So some clever pandas have used this to their advantage to improve their quality of life.”

Other panda experts disagree with these accusations.

Zhang Heming, director of the China Research and Conservation Center for the Giant Panda, told the Guardian last year that pseudo-pregnancies are actually fairly common in the panda world. He attributed the pandas’ behavior to “more —> Read More

Can we restart the heart?

What if you could use the proliferative and survival properties of cancer-prone cells to rejuvenate cardiac progenitor cells and get them dividing again, without forming tumors? Researchers are exploring the results of taking an enzyme, Pim, known to be associated with growth and survival of certain types of cancer cells, and causing it to be overexpressed in cardiac progenitor cells in mice. —> Read More

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