eLife Episode 44: Sperm Competitions and Ancient Horses
In this episode, we hear about self-esteem, a new genus of extinct horse, the future of biological engineering, tracking mosquitoes with mobile phones, and how a love rival causes salmon to increase their sperm speed...
In this episode
00:32 - Mobile phones identify mosquitoes
Mobile phones identify mosquitoes
with Manu Prakash, Stanford University
As the vectors that transmit malaria, dengue, yellow fever, zika and a host of other infections, mosquitoes are widely regarded as one of the world's most dangerous animals. Yet we know very little about where they are, how they are spreading, and how their distributions influence disease. Now mobile phones may be coming to the rescue. From Stanford University, Manu Prakash...
06:31 - How brains measure self-esteem
How brains measure self-esteem
with Geert-Jan Will, Leiden University
How we feel about ourselves is largely dictated by what we think other people think of us. But just as important as someone else’s opinion is what we expect them to think of us. If we believe that someone should rate us highly and, in fact, they don’t, the dent to our confidence is much greater than a bad rating from someone we expect to mark us down. And Leiden University’s Geert-Jahn Will has identified where in the brain this happens…
12:29 - Salmon speed up sperm
Salmon speed up sperm
with Patrice Rosegrave, Otago University, & Michael Bartlett, University of Canterbury
When animals compete for mates it’s usually the largest, strongest specimens that are successful and drive off the competition. But the underdog may have a hidden hand to play. Working on chinook salmon, Michael Bartlett and Patrice Rosengrave have found that less dominant males can compensate for being lower down the social pecking order by adding something to their seminal fluid that dramatically accelerates their sperm and boosts their chances of reproductive success…
17:50 - Biological existential risks
Biological existential risks
with Christian Boehm, University of Cambridge
Researchers at the Centre for the study of existential risk, in Cambridge, given the rapid pace at which sciences like molecular biology are advancing, set out to identify the leading biological threats we are likely to face in the near future. Christian Boehm is one of the authors of the new report...
22:49 - A new genus of extinct horse
A new genus of extinct horse
with Peter Heintzman, Tromso University Museum
Horses, zebras, asses and donkeys are all members of the group, or genus, called “Equus”. Their first ancestors arose millions of years ago. But as recently as a few tens of thousands of years ago there were two anatomically quite different groups of these animals alive side by side on Earth. One group - called the stout legged horses - are a close genetic match for all of the surviving horses around today. But the other group - called the stilt-legged horses - has since disappeared although it has a similar leg bone structure to certain family members that are still around today. Based on the anatomical similarities, palaeontologists had previously suggested that the extinct horses were related to today’s surviving species. Now a much more comprehensive genetic analysis using fossil DNA from stilt-legged specimens suggests that, instead, these stilt-legged horses were an entirely separate genus, which Peter Heintzman and his colleagues are dubbing Harringtonhippus...