Posts Tagged ‘Zebras’

Zebra’s Stripes, Butterfly’s Wings: How Do Biological Patterns Emerge?

June 23, 2008

A zebra’s stripes, a seashell’s spirals, a butterfly’s wings: these are all examples of patterns in nature. The formation of patterns is a puzzle for mathematicians and biologists alike. How does the delicate design of a butterfly’s wings come from a single fertilized egg? How does pattern emerge out of no pattern?

Using computer models and live cells, researchers at Johns Hopkins have discovered a specific pattern that can direct cell movement and may help us understand how metastatic cancer cells move.

“Pattern formation is a classic problem in embryology,” says Denise Montell, Ph.D., a professor of biological chemistry at Hopkins. “At some point, cells in an embryo must separate into those that will become heart cells, liver cells, blood cells and so on. Although this has been studied for years, there is still a lot we don’t understand.”

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Animals become prey at Egypt’s Giza Zoo

June 9, 2008

In most zoos, employees feed and care for the animals. At Egypt’s Giza Zoo, police say, workers have been turning them into dinner or selling them as pets.

When two Moroccan camels were butchered in August, the perpetrators left behind only the hide and hooves. A police investigation found that a zookeeper had slaughtered the animals and sold the meat to supplement his monthly wage.

More than 400 animals, including foxes, zebras, a black panther and a giraffe, have vanished from the government-run menagerie in the last three years, according to police documents. Zoo conditions have grabbed headlines in a country where people criticize President Hosni Mubarak for everything from crumbling schools and hospitals to the low wages and rising food prices that have sparked violent protests.

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Endangered zebra life caught on GPS

April 28, 2008

If you were a zebra, how would you spend your days?

Daniel Rubenstein, director of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology at Princeton University, has been pursuing this question for years.

He and collaborators spend their summers in Kenya trying to figure out how endangered zebras form social networks, avoid predators, and interact with the livestock and herders in the area.

ZebraNet, a collaborative project that Rubenstein co-founded with Princeton engineering professor Margaret Martonosi, studies zebra behavior through data from GPS locators on collars around zebras’ necks.

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Novel Living System Recreates Predator-prey Interaction

April 14, 2008

The hunter-versus-hunted phenomenon exemplified by a pack of lionesses chasing down a lonely gazelle has been recreated in a Petri dish with lowly bacteria.

Working with colleagues at Caltech, Stanford and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, a Duke University bioengineer has developed a living system using genetically altered bacteria that he believes can provide new insights into how the population levels of prey influence the levels of predators, and vice-versa.

The Duke experiment is an example of a synthetic gene circuit, where researchers load new “programming” into bacteria to make them perform new functions. Such re-programmed bacteria could see a wide variety of applications in medicine, environmental cleanup and biocomputing. In this particular Duke study, researchers rewrote the software of the common bacteria Escherichia coli (E. coli.) to form a mutually dependent living circuit of predator and prey.

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Drive-thru animal safari!

March 24, 2008

An elk, an emu and an alligator — no, this isn’t the start to some lame joke — those are just three of the animals you might spy at Cherokee Trace Drive-thru animal safari.

The park features a 300-acre preserve of 400 animals — 25 different species — of free-range animals that hail from far-off places including Africa, India, China, the Scottish Highlands, British Columbia, the Mediterranean islands, the Middle East and even some from the U.S.

“We try to get the most exotic animals we can,” park Operations Manager Staci Doty said. “We like to see the faces of the kids when they see a Canadian Wood Bison or a zebra up close and personal.”

Because the animals are free to roam the safari park, preserve officials don’t allow predators in.

“We don’t want to pen anything in, so you won’t see lions or tigers or anything like that,” Doty said.

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