Evolution

New Discoveries in How Animal Moms-to-Be Feed Their Babies

  Pop quiz—what kinds of animal mothers feed their babies before birth? The first (and maybe only) ones to come to mind are probably mammals like us—moms-to-be funnel nutrients from their blood supply right to their developing embryos through an organ called the placenta; the moms literally “eat for two.” That’s a different kind of nourishment than you see in most other animals—the majority lay eggs with a nutritious yolk for the embryo to use as it develops.

Birds get malaria, too

Just like people, birds have the misfortune of being visited by a variety of blood-sucking insects, insects that can transmit all manner of parasites through their bites. Some of those parasites, including ones related to human malaria, come in the form of haemosporidia--single-celled protozoans that take up residence in their host's bloodstream. Using modern lab techniques, scientists are now able to discover the diversity of these parasites living in the bloodstream of wild birds by isolating their DNA from the blood of infected birds.

Naked mole-rats: Not a mole, not a rat, and not an African mole-rat

You may remember him from the Saturday morning cartoon, Kim Possible – Rufus, the naked mole-rat, tenacious pet of Kim’s best friend Ron. With very little hair, some whiskers, wrinkly-pink skin and large teeth, Rufus stole the hearts of all who watched him save the day. In many episodes, Rufus is the hero, and like Kim and Ron, scientists agree that naked mole-rats are pretty cool.

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