Deadly new virus, MERS, ‘a threat to the entire world’ as long incubation period stokes transmission fears
A detailed look at two cases of a deadly new respiratory virus called MERS suggests people who have the disease should be isolated for at least 12 days to avoid spreading it, doctors reported Wednesday.
The new germ, a respiratory infection, was first seen in the Middle East and so far has sickened more than 40 people worldwide, killing about half of them.
In a speech on Monday in Geneva, the World Health Organization’s Director-General, Dr. Margaret Chan, said her greatest health concern is MERS. She called the ongoing outbreaks “alarm bells” and said the virus “is a threat to the entire world.” (THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases)
Spotted Jellyfish (Mastigias papua)
Also known as the lagoon jellyfish or takokurage, the spotted jellyfish is a species of jellyfish found throughout the Indo-Pacific. Unlike other jellies the spotted jelly has several small mouth openings on their oral arms instead of one large one in the middle. They also have colonies of symbiotic algae in its tissues which gives it a greenish color and food for it to eat, however they will also eat zooplankton that they catch with their arms.
White-crested Laughingthrush (Garrulax leucolophus)
…is a species of Old World babbler native to the Himalayan foothills and parts of Indochina. Like most laughingthrushes this species is often found on the ground, combing dense vegetation for food. True to their family name laughingthrushes are very noisy and produce loud characteristic laughing calls.
Sea Mouse (Aphrodita aculeata)
While it may look like a mollusc, the sea mouse is actually a species of marine polychaete worm found throughout the Northern Atlantic, North Sea, Baltic and Mediterranean. Like other polychaete worms the sea mouse is covered in iridescent setae which help them move across the ocean floor. Sea mice are simple scavengers and comb the sea floor eating dead and decaying animals.
Hox genes are a type of “general purpose gene” that control the selection and placement of certain building elements in complicated organisms. For example, rat’s have a hox gene that controls whether a tail is “built” or not. In the rat’s case, this gene is turned on so there is a tail on the rat. While at first this may seem like useless information, once hox genes are put into an evolutionary perspective they become much more interesting. For example, chickens have a hox gene for teeth, but this gene is turned off. If this gene were to be turned on, and the beak gene were turned off, a chicken could theoretically have teeth. This is possible because the chicken’s DNA still contains the instructions for “building” teeth that its dinosaur ancestors once had. In this sense, hox genes can be helpful in explaining large leaps of evolutionary development, which before seemed impossible to occur so rapidly in such small amounts of time. But why does the hox gene exist? Hox genes are found because they control homologous to other organisms. In other words, many organisms of very different types and ancestries still have the same hox genes. Another example of hox genes in action is allometric growth. Allometric growth is a change in the rate of growth in a certain feature or dimension in comparison to the rest of the body. For example, some of the evolutionary changes responsible for bat wings are due to allometric growth. Since bat wings evolved out of ordinary paws, either the finger bones increased growth rate along with the skin connecting the bones, or the rate of body growth decreased while the paw rate remained constant. Both theories are examples of allometry.
Guest post written by slarsen88
Group of dinosaurs, featuring all the classics; the T-Rex, Ankylosaurus, Stegosaurus, Triceratops, Brachiosaurus, the Velociraptor, Tropeognathus, Pteranodon, Parasaurolophus, and Iguanodon. Plus a banner that makes it clear you love dinosaurs. Design available on t-shirts and more here http://www.cafepress.com/jadafitch/9994075and here http://society6.com/JadaFitch
Thanks for the submission Jada!
From French opera to Amazonian tribe dances, performances will be rewarded with the noise of humans smacking their hands together in sync. Applause is a behaviour as widespread as humanity, but how has it become so ubiquitous? We know that clapping mimics the behaviour of apes in excited states – stamping, whooping and slapping are orang-utan reactions to food or friends. But primates don’t truly applaud unless they’re taught to. Lift your hands and clap them together. Think about what a complex action it is: cupping your hands so you burst the air pocket between your palms, having the energy to repeat the action, knowing what speed matches the people around you. So why this, over howling or kicking or stamping? Some theorists link applause solely to the group effect, citing the tendency of applause to synchronise — listen to the next slow clap you hear, and marvel at our ability to keep steady time. Clapping also tends to be prompted by a group experience, like a punchline or a spectacle. Research at York University shows that just as people laugh louder in company to prove they’ve gotten a joke, applause is more synchronous in response to a snappy turn of phrase. It makes us feel included, a part of the group, and so has an evolutionary basis. Others suggest that clapping is instinctive. Babies clap in happiness from the age of four months, and patients in catatonic states will often adopt clapping as a fixation, suggesting that it produces pleasure independent of company. This could be because of the soothing regularity and rhythm it produces. But further, there is evidence that the act can induce seizure-like brain activity, pleasurable in short bursts. In which case, clapping is not just learned, but hard-wired in our brains.
Guest article written by biocurious
Angular Roughshark (Oxynotus centrina)
…is a species of rough shark found throughout the eastern Atlantic, from Norway all the way down to South Africa. Unlike other rough sharks this species has ridges over its eyes, these ridges extend to knobs which are covered with scales. Angular roughsharks are usually found on muddy or algal bottoms of continental shelves where they feed on invertebrates like molluscs and arthropods.
A scanning electron microscope image of a single neutrophil (yellow), engulfing anthrax bacteria (orange)
Blue-naped Mousebird (Urocolius macrourus)
…is a species of mousebird (a group of African birds with no known close relation to other birds) endemic to the drier regions of Eastern Africa. Like most mousebirds this species is noted for its large feet which the bird uses to scurry among the branches and ground with dexterity, they are also very balanced and can use their toes to hold food and hang upside down. This scurrying habit is what gives the order its name. They are also popular in the pet trade.
Look, Tetrahymena again!
This is way too adorable.
Tufted Coquette (Lophornis ornatus)
…is a small species of hummingbird endemic to northern South America and Trinidad. Like several hummingbird species the male tufted coquette sports beautiful plumage which is used in display, as its common name suggests the male has two orange tufts on its chin and a fiery crest.
Knowns, Unknowns and Unknown Unknowns
We’ve identified about 1.7 million species, but millions more remain unidentified (we think). The total number of non-fungal animal and plant species could be as high as 8 or 9 million (maybe). And the ratio of known to unknown differs quite a bit depending on which category of life you’re looking at.
How long will our invertebrate bias go unchecked?!?
And of course, none of this even mentions the microbes …
(via National Geographic)
Lowland Streaked Tenrec (Hemicentetes semispinosus)
…is a small species of tenrec found throughout eastern and northern Madagascar. Like other tenrec species the lowland streaked tenrec is mostly nocturnal hunting for earthworms and insects under the cover of darkness. When threatened this tenrec can erect its quills forward and will attempt to drive them into its attacker. When foraging the lowland streaked tenrec is often found in small family groups that communicate with each other by vibrating the spines on their middle of their backs. They are the only recorded mammal to communicate via this method known as stridulation.