SBE's BioReach Issue 03


Issue 03


The world's newest monkey species was found in a lab,

not on an expedition

Recently, the discovery of the Popa langur, a medium-sized leaf-eating monkey found in central Myanmar, was announced by the scientists. It is roughly calculated there are just 200 to 250 of these monkeys, which tells us that the newly discovered species is critically endangered. While discoveries such as the langur and the gliders are certainly exciting, it is important to know that these were not previously unseen species revealed by some intrepid explorer. Rather, these animals have been identified as a genetically distinct group within an already-known population. In fact, local people have been living with these animals for generations, and have their own ways of identifying and classifying species. When scholars announce a newly defined species based on genetic evidence, it usually means they have elevated an already defined subspecies to the species level.


Guess what this prize winning image of Nikon’s 2020 photomicrography Competition depicts?

Baby Nemos grow like this inside their see-through eggs! The depicted developmental sequence of a clownfish came second in Nikon's 2020 Photomicrography Competition. The photographer even captured the little white package of sperm at the top of the egg on day one. Clownfish, like many reef fish, have evolved to hatch after dusk to avoid the threat of being eaten. Newly hatched baby clownfish, like most coral reef fish, are small (about 5mm long) and transparent. Hatching in darkness likely means they are less visible to predators as they emerge from their eggs. Findings show that the presence of artificial light, even at relatively low levels can cause problems in hatching. 


For the first time close relatives of SARS-CoV-2 found outside China! Does this tell the actual origin of the virus?

Scientists discovered two viruses in frozen bats and bat droppings stored in Cambodian and Japanese laboratories. COVID-19 caused by the virus SARS-CoV-2, continues to circulate around and hence the scientists have never stopped looking for the pathogen’s point of origin. Like its cousin SARS-CoV, which caused outbreaks of severe acute respiratory syndrome in the early 2000s, SARS-CoV-2 likely originated in horseshoe bats (genus Rhinolophus). But some evidence suggests that the virus may have passed through another animal before infecting humans. By hunting for closely related coronaviruses, scientists can help solve the mystery of how SARS-CoV-2 jumped from bats to people, triggering the current pandemic.


World's first: Drug guides stem cells to desired location, improving their ability to heal.

Scientists at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute have created a drug that can lure stem cells to damaged tissue and improve treatment efficacy. A first and major advancement for the field of regenerative medicine. The discovery, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS), could improve current stem cell therapies designed to treat such neurological disorders as spinal cord injury, stroke, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and other neurodegenerative disorders.  This can also expand their use to new conditions, such as heart disease or arthritis.


What makes the African crested rats deadly enough to kill a human?

African crested rats are rabbit-size fuzz balls and have catlike purr. But they're also highly poisonous as their furs are loaded with a toxin. It is so powerful that just a few milligrams is deadly enough to kill a human. The rats don't produce the poison themselves. A new study shows that they borrow it from a poisonous plant by chewing on the bark, mixing the toxin with their saliva and then grooming the lethal liquid into stripes of specialized hairs on their flanks. Crested rats' bodies measure about 9 to 14 inches (225 to 360 millimeters) long, and they inhabit woodlands in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Sudan, Tanzania and Uganda. But they were so difficult to trap or observe that little was known about their habits or where their poison came from, researchers reported Nov. 17 in the Journal of Mammalogy. 

Sarbajit Ray on behalf of SBE-VIT

Author & Editor

Hope you enjoyed the acticle, stay tuned for more such interesting articles and events from SBE-VIT!!


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