Zoologger: The Largest Arthropod to Prowl the Land: Samantha Hill

Among the beautiful beaches and gigantic waves in Palmyra atoll, just south of Hawaii, a big creature waits his chance to emerge as the sun goes down.

Jawless Vertebrae Had the Worlds Sharpest Teeth: Meghan Skura

The Conodont is recorded to have the sharpest teeth of any animal that ever lived, hoever its teeth are barely thicker than a human hair.

Ancient Creature was a Miniture Monster: Christina Vilkhovoy

A 500 million year old monster looking predator was discovered in the deposits of Canada.

Some Echinoderms Will Never Grow Up: Erica DeMello

In life, people think of being “immature” or not growing up as a bad thing. But in this case, for species like echinoderms, it can be advantageous.

500-Million-Year-Old Sea Creature Unearthed: Desiree Villeneuve

Scientists have discovered a 520-million-year-old preserved fossil of an arthropod known as a fuxhianhuiid.

Paradox Worm' Xenoturbella Bocki Lacks Brain and Sex Organs, But Could Be Mankind's 'Progenito:Dana Hebert

There is a high possibility that a paradox worm can be more related to humans that many other more advanced organisms.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

A Look at the World Explains 90 Percent of Changes in Vegetation

photo courtesy of nasa.gov

Human kind runs this world, building, expanding and surfacing as much of mother earth as they can. Some say this is our way of flourishing in our environment and taking advantage of things earth has to offer but we must take a step back and look at the damage being done. “In the last thirty years, vegetation has changed significantly the world over (Schaepman).”

Climate is the main thing that control vegetation, being the start of the growth process and human kind can control the climate. With our excessive amounts of abuse of the environment we are not allowing earth to naturally control and regulate its self. “Within the last thirty years, for instance, vegetation activity has increased in the northern hemisphere but declined in the southern hemisphere (Schaepman).” Over all there have been drastic changes in the ecosystem due to humans activity, from driving cars to desecrating forests and it is only worsening. If nothing is done about these changes it is not known exactly what will happen but predictions of worsening living conditions have been made.

“The majority of the changes – more than 30 percent overall – were caused by human activity (Schaeoman).” This article talks about the largeness of our effect of the environment, and gives insight to just how bad it is and could be. With this information known and public it’s time to start changing out ways.

Future of organs? Synthetic tissue built with 3-D printer

photo courtesy of trbimg.com
On April 4th, 2013, Amina Khan wrote an article in the Los Angeles Times describing some new developments in the scientific and medical world. The article, entitled, “Future of organs? Synthetic tissue built with 3-D printer,” describes how scientists have developed a 3-D printer that creates materials that very closely resemble human tissues. The substances used to make this material are actually quite simple. They are networks of water droplets coated in lipids, and will someday be used to replace damaged tissue in living organs. 

The droplets of water consist of lipid bilayers, similar to cell membranes, that allow things to go in and out. Before creating the 3-D printer, this process of creating these water droplets was a tedious and laborious process. Now, since the production of the 3-D printer, it uses a micropipette to squeeze the droplets out, which sped up the process incredibly.

Scientists were surprised by these results. They did not expect that they would be able to use these droplets as tissues. The did not expect that once they could print the droplets that they would so closely resemble human tissues, and also did not expect that they would be able to make them in such an efficient way. Along with replacing human tissue, the synthetic tissue will be able to act as nerve pathways, triggered into contracting like a muscle, and even able to send electrical signals, like a nerve. These tissues will be used to graft onto organs to replace damaged parts, and to grow more cells.

Blog Post Author Taylor Berube from Section 124-28

Works Cited
4, Amina Khan April. "Future of Organs? Synthetic Tissue Built with 3-D Printer." Los Angeles
Times. Los Angeles Times, 04 Apr. 2013. Web. 19 Apr. 2013.

Tissue engineering: Growing new organs, and more

photo courtesy of mit.edu
Tissue engineering research has progressed from using tissue for replacement organs and transplants to focusing on creating tissue that can be used to study diseases and develop new drugs for treatments. Scientists at MIT are especially focused on this research. Sangeeta Bhatia, a professor at MIT, has developed a liver tissue, which has allowed her to study malaria and hepatitis c. She has used thin pieces of this liver tissue to implant in mice, which has allowed her to study new possible treatments.

In addition, scientists at MIT are in the process of developing a “human-on-a-chip” system. This would be a system of interconnected tissue that could be modified based on what diseases are being researched. This “human-on-a-chip” system would allow scientists to study multiple diseases at once and test the effects of different drugs on tissues.

Other tissue engineering research includes, research to develop regenerative therapies that would aid in healing wounds and tissue injuries. A professor at MIT, has developed implantable scaffolds that have endothelial cells within them. Endothelial cells are cells that secrete proteins that respond to injury. These cells could be used to help repair damage caused by surgeries, cancer, smoke, and cardiovascular disease. These implantable scaffolds are currently used in clinical trials to help heal blood vessel injuries that are caused by the needles used in dialysis. If these trials are successful, the implantable scaffolds could potentially double the amount of time a person with kidney failure is allowed to be on dialysis.

Lastly, professors at MIT are attempting to develop cardiac tissue that would help heal patients who have lost their voices. The cardiac tissue would include electronic sensors and a synthetic polymer. It would heal people who have lost their voices by restoring the function of their vocal cord. The challenge that arises in developing organs is that it is necessary for the blood vessels in the tissue, when implanted, to connect to the patient’s blood supply. Scientists at MIT are trying to combat this problem by inducing blood vessels to form by trying to grow cells on a nano-patterned surface.

Blog Post Author: Mary Catherine Maher 124-28

Article Citation:
Trafton, Anne. "Tissue Engineering: Growing New Organs, and More." MIT's News Office. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 14 Dec. 2012. Web. 17 Apr. 2013

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Paradox Worm' Xenoturbella Bocki Lacks Brain & Sex Organs, But Could Be Mankind's 'Progenito

Photo courtesy of sciencedaily.com
The article “’Paradox Worm' Xenoturbella Bocki Lacks Brain & Sex Organs, But Could Be Mankind's 'Progenitor'” by Andres Jauregui of Huffington Post, describes the high possibility that a paradox worm can be more related to humans that many other more advanced organisms. This organism might belong to a branch of the animal family tree called deuterostomes. “Deuterostome development in animals, is a developmental mode distinguished by the development of the anus from the blastopore; often also characterized by radial cleavage and by the body cavity forming out pockets of mesodermal tissue” (Campbell 661). For example, the study’s co-author Matthias Obststates states, “So maybe we're more closely related to the Xenoturbella bocki worm, which doesn't have a brain, than we are to lobsters and flies” (Jauregui 1). Scientists have good reason to believe that the human race is more closely related to something so simple and far from complex as this worm that lacks a brain and sex organs! They have found that, “…the worm's early embryonic development is similar to that of humans, which could help answer questions about how human organs are formed” (Jauregui 1). This discovery could potentially help scientists regenerate organs, tissues and contribute to stem cell research. This new found information can benefit the future of medicine and longevity immensely.

Blog Post Author: Dana Hebert, Section 124-28

Article Citation

Jauregui, Andres. "'Paradox Worm' Xenoturbella Bocki Lacks Brain & Sex Organs, But Could Be Mankind's 'Progenitor'" The Huffington Post. TheHuffingtonPost.com, 28 Mar. 2013. Web. 02 Apr. 2013.

Reece, Jane B., Neil A. Campbell, Michael L. Cain, Steven A. Wasserman, Peter V. Minorsky, and Robert B. Jackson. Campbell Biology. 9th ed. Boston: Benjamin Cummings / Pearson Education, 2011. Print.

Jawless Vertebrae Had the World's Sharpest Teeth

Photo courtesy of rhyniechert.com
 This article was about a vertebra named a Conodont. It is recorded to have the sharpest teeth of any animal that ever lived. Its teeth are barely thicker than a human hair; however their strength can compete with the strength of our human jaw. This vertebra evolved 500 million years ago and went extinct about 200 million years ago. This vertebra roamed the earth for longer than any other vertebra so far. They do not have a jaw; however they were the first vertebra to evolve teeth. Conodont’s teeth are a little bit different than mammalian teeth. Instead of going up and down, the Conodont’s teeth go left to right to work. There was a problem with having such thin sharp teeth, because they’re so thin and fragile they are more likely to break. To overcome this, the Conodont was able to re-sharpen and repair their teeth throughout their lives. The discovery of these vertebra gave rise to insight of the dental evolution of vertebra. The fossilized teeth are found abundantly in the sedimentary rock in marine environments. By looking at these fossils it can be determined how vertebra evolved and what were the reason for them to evolve, which was most likely food. The finding of Conodonts opened doors for scientific investigation.

Blog Post Author: Meghan Skura, Section 124-21

Article Citation:
Bell, Alexandra. "Jawless Vertebrate had world's sharpest teeth." Nature. N.p., 14 Mar 2012. Web. 14 Apr 2013. <http://www.nature.com/news/jawless-vertebrate-had-world-s-sharpest-teeth-1.10211>.

Some Echinoderms Will Never Grow Up

photo courtesy of deepseanews.com
In life, people think of being “immature” or not growing up as a bad thing. But in this case, for species like echinoderms, it can be advantageous. Xyloplax is an example of an Echinoderm that has adapted to its preferred environment. The article goes on to name list the five living examples of Echinoderms and some examples of each. When Xyloplax was first discovered, it apparently did not fit into any of the five classes because it did not have all the characteristics of one in particular. For example, making it unique, the Xyloplax does not have arms; however it was then found out that it was most closely relate to the family Pterasteridae. It has also been hypothesized that Xyloplax is “an actual Asteroid with arrested development so that sexually mature individuals occur in an otherwise juvenile body” (Dr. M.). In other words, Xyloplax’s characteristics allow it to live in pieces of wood on the seafloor. Because it is so small, it can fit into tiny spaces in the wood and eat bacteria. The moral of the article is that next time you try and tell someone to grow up, think first about how they may be perfect the way they are!

Blog Post Author: Erica DeMello, Section 124-28

Article Citation
Janies, D., J. Voight, and M. Daly. "Some Echinoderms Will Never Grow Up." Deep Sea
     News. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Apr. 2013.

Ancient Creature was a miniature monster

Photo courtesy of http://palaeos.com
A 500 million year old monster looking predator was discovered in the deposits of Canada. The first clues of the monster fossil were described 100 years ago and scientists thought it to be a crustacean animal, however, now its clear that Hurdia is a large predatory animal, half a meter in length with a segmented body and a head with spiny claws and a circular jaw with teeth. It is extremely rare to find a complete fossil because the soft tissues decay quickly.

More and more clues of Hurdia are accumulated over the years but the final clue was discovered when a sample turned up in storage cabinets at the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C. This specimen has been intact until researches in the 1970’s classified it as an arthropod and then as an unusual specimen of the famous monster predator Anomalocaris. Hurdia is related to this other beast, but one thing that was different from both is that a large three-part shell projects out from the front of the animal’s head. Researchers were astonished by this structure because it was unlike anything they had seen in arthropods. The shell structure in Hurdia did not seem to cover or protect the body as most do and it was empty.

No one knows what these predators might have ate because there is no direct evidence but they think that it ate whatever came around. If it was looked at in terms of the Cambrian marine world, it may have ate marine worms, trilobites, other arthropods, molluscs, or other predators. Hurida was covered in gills which my hint it was necessary to provide oxygen to a large swimming animal. Hurdia and Anomalocaris are early lineages that directed to arthropods because they had compound eyes and limbs with filaments used for breathing.

Blog Post Author: Christina Vilkhovoy, Section 124-22

Article Citation
LiveScience Staff. “Ancient Creature was a Minature Monster.” Live Science. 19 March 2009. Web. < http://www.livescience.com/3416-ancient-creature-miniature-monster.html>.