Across the animal kingdom, males can be brightly colored to attract females. Vervet monkeys also fall into this category, but only with their scrotums which are bright blue. However, this coloring comes with a catch: if a male falls in social standing, the color begins to fade. Thus, the females can easily identify the most dominant males and choose their mate. Via FB
Photo credit: Gijs Joost Brouwer
Codex Seraphinianus, 1976-1978
‘The Codex Seraphinianus is a book written and illustrated by Italian artist, architect and industrial designer Luigi Serafini, from 1976 to 1978. The book appears to be a visual encyclopedia of an unknown world, written in one of its languages, an alphabetic writing intended to be meaningless.’
Desert Rain Frog
This little guy has making the rounds on my dashboard lately, with a link to a video of the brilliant sounds it makes, so I thought I’d better tell you a bit about the species. The Desert Rain Frog (Breviceps macrops) is native to a coastal strip in a region called Namaqualand, which is located in Namibia and South Africa. It’s a squat, plump frog about 4–6 mm long, and has strikingly large and bulging eyes, paddle-like feet and extremely short limbs, which makes it hard for it to hop. The frog is fossorial, which means it lives underground, burrowing into the moist sand dunes of its habitat. They come up at night, usually during and following coastal fogs that supply moisture to the arid region. Their distinctive calls can be heard all year round—the males come to the surface and settle themselves in a small depression in the sand, then let out bursts of sound like a rising, squeaky, amazingly entertaining whistle. Sometimes, males even call out together, with one starting a call and others following it in a regular pattern like a chorus. The species has only been found in 11 different locations within a 200 square kilometre strip of land, and the frogs are declining in numbers thanks to habitat alteration and pollution from nearby diamond mining activities.
A false color micrograph of Clostridium difficile
Advocates say don’t pooh-pooh fecal transplants
At first flush, the topic of fecal transplants is likely to provoke a kind of automatic gag reflex, but the procedure boasts a growing army of advocates. Most recently proponents heard the call to alarm when the Food and Drug Administration proposed tightening restrictions on when and how transplants could be done and by whom.
Fecal transplants are used to treat patients suffering from infections by the bacterium Clostridium difficile, an aptly named bacterium that can cause severe inflammation of the colon, produce life-threatening diarrhea and is extremely problematic to treat. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates roughly 14,000 Americans die from “C. diff” each year.
Fecal transplants are a relatively new remedy. In the procedure, the patient’s infected intestines and colon are completely flushed of its microbiome – the vast assemblage of microorganisms, good and bad, that reside specifically in the gut.
Doctors then attempt to repopulate (re-poop-ulate?) the cleansed gut with colonies of healthy microbes from the diluted stool of a health person, often a relative. (Researchers are also working to develop artificial poop derived from a mix of 33 bacterial strains.)
There’s accumulating evidence that, at least in some cases, fecal transplants are extremely effective. A study published earlier this year in the New England Journal of Medicine, for example, reported that 81 percent of patients infected with C. diff recovered completely after a single fecal infusion.
The FDA, however, expressed concern that the procedure was becoming too popular. Or more precisely, that unqualified doctors were promoting it for unproven purposes. Like any medical procedure, there are risks involved in fecal transplants, not the least being that it can result in other bacterial infections.
The FDA’s proposal to require that doctors seek special approval before any transplant provoked immediate opposition from physicians who said doing so would endanger patients who cannot wait for a government OK.
In the end, the FDA acknowledged those concerns and backed off greater regulation. Nonetheless, the agency said it would vigorously enforce current rules and warned that fecal transplants should only be used on patients with C. diff who have not responded to other therapies.
This was a man, dressed as a plant, making pigeon noises at people walking by. I said hello, asked if it was okay to take his picture, and then asked why he was dressed as a plant. He said, “I’m just working through some stuff. Thank you for asking. No ones asked yet.”