Mice are great (see: high-endurance mice, mice with lab-grown artificial organs, Israeli bomb-sniffing security mice) but sometimes you just don't want them in your apartment/house/bakery/kitchen/New York subway station, which is why you might buy some warfarin, a common rodent poison. Some mice, however, have developed an immunity to that poison through highly unusual means: horizontal gene transfer, a kind of evolution-through-hybridization that's only been seen before in microbes.
Sure, the maze gets boring every so often. And yeah, there's not much variety in the food. But compared to the kill or be killed world of the wild, being a lab rat is a pretty good life. So good, in fact, that researchers at the National Institute on Aging (NIA) believe many lab rats are so overfed they distort research results from experiments intended to help cure everything from cancer to Alzheimer's to, you guessed it, obesity.
Cocaine's a hell of a drug, and even more so when laced with another drug that's commonly used to deworm opossums. Federal agents have found that 69 percent of cocaine shipments seized entering the United States contain levamisole, a veterinary drug linked to serious weakening of the immune system in humans. Here's the real funny part: no one knows why.
Apparently men and women are not that different after all. In fact, the sexes are so similar that women have to fight their entire lives just to remain women -- at least on the genetic level.
A new study finds that turning off just one gene, shared by all mammals, turns ovarian cells into testosterone-producing cells found only in the testes -- and this is in adults.
Zoe Donaldson, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, via Science Daily
Man, those scientists just love their glowing lab subjects. First came mice, and then recently the first primates got some jellyfish genes implanted into their DNA. Now, scientists at Emory University have implanted the gene for jellyfish fluorescent protein in prairie voles.
A group of leading researchers working on hearing loss have created mice whose hearing worsens as they age, as mirror counterparts to humans. But these mice fail to breed well, which led the University of Rochester group to crossbreed them with mice that had great sex drives but even worse hearing loss in their old age. The result was a new super breed that is prolific and has superb hearing.
Naked mole rats are unique in many ways. For one, they're the only mammals with a hive mind, obeying their queen as if they were ants. Also, they feel no pain, an adaptation still not fully understood. But most importantly for us, they are the only animals that don't get cancer.
And now, a new study by scientists at the University of Rochester, New York, explains at last why these horrific animals, of all of the world's creatures, are immune to cancer.
In this video, a mouse runs through a virtual maze derived from a Quake 2 level, by steering a trackball suspended on a jet of air. Obviously the Princeton scientists did this because it's awesome, but the ostensible reason is because it gives them unprecedented access to study the neurological activity of the rodent while it moves around.
Forget the Orkin Man; with pests like this, you might need to call Ripley. Scientists have recently discovered two new, giant versions of common pests.
In this corner, hailing from Papua New Guinea and weighing in at a hefty 3.3 pounds comes the the Bosavi woolly rat. And in the other corner, in the bright yellow outfit and representing Malaysia, please welcome Heteropoda davidbowie, "the Spider from Mars."