Marine mammals’ adaptations to low oxygen offer new perspective on COVID-19 — ScienceDaily

When Terrie Williams began hearing about the wide range of symptoms experienced by patients with COVID-19, she saw a connection between the various ways the disease is affecting people and the many physiological adaptations that have enabled marine mammals to tolerate low oxygen levels during dives.

Williams, a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at UC Santa Cruz, has spent decades studying the physiology of marine mammals and their extraordinary ability to perform strenuous activities while holding their breath for long periods under water.

“Diving marine mammals experience a lifetime of rapid physiological transitions between normal oxygenation and hypoxia [low oxygen levels],” Williams said. “They’ve got ways to protect themselves and allow their organs to keep functioning while holding their breath for hours at a time, but there’s a whole suite of biological adaptations that had to happen for them to be able to do that.”

Lacking those adaptations, humans

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Scientists Sequence DNA Of 240 Mammals

An international team of scientists has sequenced the genomes of 240 species of mammals. 

Their publicly available dataset, which contains genomes of mammals ranging from the bumblebee bat to the black rhinoceros, including many endangered species, is the largest and most comprehensive of its kind generated to date. These data will help scientists learn which genetic mutations cause human diseases like cancer. 

The Zoonomia Project has analyzed the genomes of mammals over about 110 million years of evolution. A paper about the dataset is published in Nature.

“The core idea for the project was to develop and use this data to help human geneticists figure out which mutations cause disease,” Kerstin Lindblad-Toh, a senior co-author of the study and a professor in comparative genomics at Uppsala University, said in a news release.

Scientists can

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Scientists discover two new mammals in Australia


Australia’s three greater gliders (clockwise from top left) Petauroides minor, Petauroides volans, and Petauroides armillatus.

Denise McGregor and Jasmine Vink

Two new species of greater glider, a cat-size marsupial that lives in the forests of Australia, have been discovered Down Under after scientists ran DNA tests on new tissue samples of the animals. A new study published in Nature’s public access Scientific Reports journal details the findings. 

The discovery is significant because it means gliders are more diverse than previously thought, adding to the biodiversity of animals found in Australia. 

“It’s really exciting to find this biodiversity under our noses,” study researcher Kara Youngentob told The West Australian. “The division of the greater glider into multiple species reduces the previous widespread distribution of the original species, further increasing conservation concern for that animal and highlighting

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Indian fossils support new hypothesis for origin of hoofed mammals — ScienceDaily

New research published today in the Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology describes a fossil family that illuminates the origin of perissodactyls — the group of mammals that includes horses, rhinos, and tapirs. It provides insights on the controversial question of where these hoofed animals evolved, concluding that they arose in or near present day India.

With more than 350 new fossils, the 15-year study pieces together a nearly complete picture of the skeletal anatomy of the Cambaytherium — an extinct cousin of perissodactyls that lived on the Indian subcontinent almost 55 million years ago.

Among the findings includes a sheep-sized animal with moderate running ability and features that were intermediate between specialized perissodactyls and their more generalized mammal forerunners. Comparing its bones with many other living and extinct mammals, revealed that Cambaytherium represents an evolutionary stage more primitive than any known perissodactyl, supporting origin for the group in or near India

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Biofluorescent fur could help some mammals spot each other after dark — ScienceDaily

The fur of the platypus — an Australian species threatened with extinction — glows green under ultraviolet light, a new study finds. This is the first observation of biofluorescence in an egg-laying mammal (monotreme), suggesting this extraordinary trait may not be as rare as previously thought.

The research article “Biofluorescence in the platypus (Ornithorhynchus anatinus)” was published in De Gruyter’s international journal Mammalia.

Two mammals — the opossum and the flying squirrel — are already known to have fur that biofluoresces under under ultraviolet (UV) light.

One of the paper’s authors discovered pink biofluorescence in flying squirrels by accident while conducting a night survey for lichens, a finding reported in an earlier paper. While confirming this field observation with preserved museum specimens, the researchers decided to examine the platypuses in the next drawer along too.

They studied three museum platypus specimens: a female and a male from

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