That's the drawback of the modern lab mouse. It's cheap, efficient, and highly standardized—all of which qualities have made it the favorite tool of large-scale biomedical research. But as Mattson points out, there's a danger to taking so much of our knowledge straight from the animal assembly line. The inbred, factory-farmed rodents in use today—raised by the millions in germ-free barrier rooms, overfed and understimulated and in some cases pumped through with antibiotics—may be placing unseen constraints on what we know and learn.
Slate has just finished a three part series on the pitfalls and promises of laboratory animals. (Part 1
, Part 2
, Part 3
) [more inside]
posted by tocts
on Nov 18, 2011 -
Five years ago this week, the BBC started broadcasting one of the most extraordinary documentaries ever to grace television: Planet Earth
. The culmination of five years of field work
, it employed the most cutting-edge of techniques
in order to capture life in all its forms, from sweeping spaceborne vistas to shockingly intimate close-ups
-- including many sights
rarely glimpsed by human eyes. Visually spectacular
, it showcased footage shot in 204 locations in 62 countries
, thoroughly documenting every biome from the snowy peaks of the Himalayas to the lifegiving waters of the Okavango Delta
, a rich narrative tapestry backed by a stirring orchestral score
from the BBC Concert Orchestra. Unfortunately, the series underwent some editorial changes
for rebroadcast overseas. But now fans outside the UK can rejoice -- all eleven chapters of this epic story are available on YouTube in their original form: uncut, in glorious 1080p HD, and with the original narration by renowned naturalist Sir David Attenborough
. Click inside for the full listing (and kiss the rest of your week goodbye). [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi
on Mar 7, 2011 -
“When I was a kid growing up I was obsessed with animals and monsters… I’d draw them everyday, and when I grew up I either wanted to be a zoologist or a monster hunter
… When I got a bit older I realized that being a zoologist was less exciting than I had imagined, and that ‘monster hunter’ isn’t even a real job
, so I just kept drawing. I pretty much do the exact same thing
at 29 years old that I did when I was 9 years old.”
Nicholas Di Genova weaves organisms together in pen and ink. [more inside]
posted by emilyd22222
on Dec 8, 2010 -
Electronic Biologia Centrali-Americana
is a collaboration between the Smithsonian, Missouri Botanical and Kew Gardens, the British Natural History Museum and various other institutions which has enabled the digitizing of 58 volumes of natural history about central America produced between 1880 and 1920. It includes descriptions of more than 50,000 species with images of more than 18,000 birds
, more birds
, more spiders
, more plants
, orthoptera insects
, more butterflies
and their family
and even some historic maps of the region
. There is a parallel project attempting to provide access to much more scientific data and specimens between these institutions.
Note: 'next' button at top +/- bottom of these large thumb pages; large high resolution jpegs work (in most cases) but zoom and .pdfiles are not yet enabled. I've only just scratched the surface.
posted by peacay
on Sep 26, 2005 -
Adopt an Ex-Lab Experiment Monkey
(British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection) is sponsoring an adoption program to help care for some 50 macaques that had been owned by a lab in Thailand to be used for scientific experiments. After some publicity, they were pressured into releasing the little monkeys just prior to their last experiment that would have killed them all.
posted by fenriq
on Nov 16, 2004 -
Seal kills scientist
A British scientist has been killed by a leopard seal whilst snorkelling in Antarctica.
I had no idea that a seal could (or would) attack a human. These things can grow to 23ft long! They are known to feed on penguins, but a human is a fair bit bigger than a penguin, so this is one nasty animal, not the doe-eyed creature we coo over in nature programmes...
posted by jontyjago
on Jul 24, 2003 -
'A colossal squid
has been caught in Antarctic waters, the first example of Mesonychoteuthis hamiltoni retrieved virtually intact from the surface of the ocean. ' Related (old news from January) :-
giant squid attacks boat
More squid sites :- Search for Giant Squid
a Smithsonian exhibit about a 1999 expedition. 'Whether living or extinct, on land or at sea, in literature or in life, large animals have long fascinated people. The largest animals have been known and hunted since prehistory: whales, walruses, elephants, rhinos, hippos, giraffes, and large fishes... However, one large animal has gone almost unnoticed or certainly unobserved in its habitat. That animal is the giant squid. Although these animals have been found in the nets of commercial fishermen, in the stomachs of sperm whales, and washed ashore on different continents, no scientific information has been gathered by direct observations of live giant squid ... '
The UnMuseum's article on the giant squid
posted by plep
on Apr 3, 2003 -
Dolly is dead.
"The type of lung disease Dolly developed is most common in older sheep. And in January 2002, it was revealed that Dolly had developed arthritis prematurely. She was cloned using a cell taken from a healthy six-year-old sheep, and was born on 5 July 1996 at the Roslin Institute, Edinburgh, Scotland."
posted by 111
on Feb 14, 2003 -
Evolution is a process
that hasn't stopped just because humans now rule the planet. What will animals look like in 200,000 years? The Discovery Channel's Animal Planet
asks experts to predict the future of life on Earth.
posted by hipnerd
on Dec 31, 2002 -
The All Species Inventory
is a non-profit organization dedicated to the complete inventory of all species of life on Earth within the next 25 years - a human generation. It's an interesting project, based on open-source ideology (check out their "Principles
") but seems to be limiting itself to strictly Linnaean
posted by Irontom
on Sep 23, 2002 -
The Mars Gravity Biosatellite Project
is an unmatched international effort that pools top-notch technical talent from MIT, the University of Washington in Seattle, and the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. The mission is nothing short of groundbreaking. The plan is to build a spacecraft capable of housing a small crew of mice, including pregnant females, which will simulate the gravity of Mars to determine its effects on mammalian development.
posted by David Dark
on Sep 18, 2002 -
I guess it trumps dying a horrible death (but not by much)
... "A young calf has his belly shaved. Many slashes are made in the skin. A prior batch of smallpox vaccine is dropped into the slashes and allowed to fester over a period of days. During this period of time, the calf stands in a head stall so that he can’t lick his belly. The calf is led out of the stock to a table where he is strapped down. His belly scabs and pus are scraped off and ground into a powder. The powder is the next batch of smallpox vaccine." (Excerpt from Vaccines : A Second Opinion, and link swiped wholesale from Randomwalks.)
posted by crunchland
on Apr 10, 2002 -
an organization called earthtrust started project delphis in 1985 to determine how intelligent and self-conscious dolphins actually are.
this is very
posted by bwg
on Apr 5, 2001 -
Surrogate clone mother
Bessie, an Iowa farm cow, is pregnant. But she's not having a cow. Inside her uterus is an endangered species called an Asian gaur, a heavily muscled, humpbacked, ox-like animal native to the bamboo jungles of India and Burma. The embryonic gaur, Noah, due to be born next month, was cloned from a single skin cell taken from a dead gaur, researchers report in a paper in the latest issue of the journal Cloning, to be released this week. It is the first endangered species ever to be cloned, and the first cloned animal to gestate in the womb of another species.
Is this a new era in wildlife conservation? (Already, the Massachusetts scientists who created Noah are laying plans to clone endangered giant pandas.) Or are we bringing on Jurassic Park?
posted by jhiggy
on Oct 9, 2000 -