Cool! Antarctic krill can turn microplastics into nanoplastics

Jean Balchin Mar 09, 2018

A groundbreaking Griffith University study has found Antarctic krill which ingest microplastics are able to turn them into nanoplastics through digestion. What are Krill? Krill is a general term used to refer to around 85 species of free-swimming crustaceans called euphausiids, of which Antarctic krill is one species. Antarctic krill are one of the most abundant and successful animal species on … Read More

Brain imaging shows senior moments are selective

Jean Balchin Mar 08, 2018

When I was a child, I vividly remember a very funny episode with my Grandpa. He couldn’t find his glasses – yet there they were, perched on the top of his head. I thought he was just playing along, but I gradually realised that he was being serious. It still makes me chuckle to this day, although memory loss isn’t … Read More

How does a Virus-Blocking Bacterium operate in Mosquitoes?

Jean Balchin Mar 05, 2018

A recent study published in PLOS Pathogens has revealed more details of the mechanism by which the bacterium Wolbachia blocks viruses in mosquito cells. Professor Scott O’Neill, Director of the World Mosquito Program, led by Australia’s Monash University, and colleagues argue that the mechanism reduces viral replication inside cells and that rapid degradation of viral RNA is involved.  What is Wolbachia?  Wolbachia is a genus of gram-negative … Read More

Give it a minute or so before clamping the cord

Jean Balchin Mar 01, 2018

Babies – both premature and full-term – who do not require respiratory support may benefit from leaving their umbilical cord unclamped for at least 60 seconds after birth, according to the authors of a Perspective published recently by the Medical Journal of Australia. Umbilical Cord In placental mammals, there exists an umbilical cord, which acts as a conduit … Read More

First baby ‘Dumbo’ octopods found

Jean Balchin Feb 23, 2018

“Ridiculed because of his enormous ears, a young circus elephant is assisted by a mouse to achieve his full potential.” You’ve heard of Dumbo the Elephant (if you haven’t, you are missing out!), but have you heard of Dumbo the Octopod?  In a report in Current Biology on February 19, researchers have described a deep sea “dumbo” octopod. These young octopods look … Read More

Your Fitbit could warn you about heart disease

Jean Balchin Feb 23, 2018

It seems that almost everyone these days has a fitbit, or some other form of wearable sensor for personal fitness tracking. However, a research article published in the open access journal PLOS Biology has revealed that these finicky little devices can be used to gain new insights in several fields of biomedical research.  Weng Khong Lim and colleagues from the SingHealth … Read More

Meta-analysis finds antidepressants ARE probably effective

Jean Balchin Feb 22, 2018

A major meta-analysis study comparing commonly used antidepressants has concluded that all are more effective than placebo for the short-term treatment of acute depression in adults, with effectiveness ranging from small to moderate for different drugs. What is depression? According to the American Psychiatric Association, depression “is a common and serious medical illness that negatively affects how you feel, … Read More

Even light physical activity in your 70s can prolong life

Jean Balchin Feb 21, 2018

A recent study has revealed that even short bursts of exercise, including those of light intensity, is linked to a lower risk of death in older men. Published online in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, researchers found that providing the recommended 150 minute weekly tally of moderate to physical activity is reached, total volume, rather than activity in 10 … Read More

Walk this Way! Lizards may have run on two feet as early as 110 million years ago

Jean Balchin Feb 20, 2018

A recent study in Scientific Reports has concluded that lizards may have run on two feet (bipedally) as early as 110 million years ago. Although typical lizard locomotion is quadrupedal (on four feet), bipedalism is a behaviour exhibited by over 50 species of lizards. During bipedal locomotion, the forelimbs leave the ground and the trunk of the lizard is elevated; essentially the lizard … Read More

Whole Lotta Rosie! Ancient fossil found in Waipara

Jean Balchin Feb 19, 2018

Canterbury Museum is now the proud home of the world’s oldest penguin fossil and the world’s most complete specimen of any bird (also a penguin) that lived during the 10 million years following the extinction of the dinosaurs. Left to Right: Dr Paul Scofield, Dr Vanesa De Pietri and Dr Gerald Mayr with the skull of Rosie’s Penguin. The story … Read More