Sunday, October 16, 2011

Science Saturday 1.4: Pirahna Barks, Peanut Allergies, Megavirus & More

Sorry, I had internet troubles yesterday, so this is officially Science Saturday on Sunday :)

*Disclaimer: I am in NO WAY a science writer/journalist.  I will most likely get some facts wrong (hopefully not).  I simply want to share news that I find interesting.  Knowing that my blog readers are most likely not science people, I will try to explain what I can in the simplest way possible so that anyone can learn something about science today.*

Fish are known to make vocalizations as a form of communication, and a recent study shows that the feared piranha barks to communicate various types of aggressive behavior.  The sounds are made through vibrations of the swim bladder (an organ that helps fish stay afloat).

Scientists have figured out how to turn off peanut attaching peanut proteins to white blood cells, the immune system begins to adapt to the peanut proteins by bypassing TH2 T cells which cause the allergic response and recruiting regulatory T cells which help tolerate the peanut proteins, creating a short cut of sorts for the immune system response.  They hope to use this technique to help regulate various allergies in a clinical setting.

A complete theropod dinosaur fossil was found in Germany, with skin and hair-like feathers preserved along with the skeleton.  Theropod dinosaurs (which include the genus Tyrannosaurus) are rarely found  as complete fossils.  This particular specimen is estimated to be 135 million years old, and the theropod is speculated to have been a year old when it died.

Featured microbe: Megavirus
Discovered in Chilean waters, an ancient giant virus was recently discovered.  Don't worry though, it only infects bacteria.  Megavirus is 6.5% larger than the current largest known virus, mimivirus, and has 1120 genes coded in it's DNA.  A distinctive set of genes code for a viral factory, called a "stargate" (seen in the photo), only found in giant viruses.  This could help shed light on how viruses came to be.


  1. Amazing!! These discoveries are absolutely amazing.

    So I guess if I'm swimming in the Amazon I should put my ear to the water to see if I hear any "barking." Ha! ;-)

    Thank you for doing this feature. I've said it before but I mean it, I really love it!

  2. Fish can "talk"? COOL! I really do like this feature you do!

    Janette, the Jongleur