The study of the normal function of living organisms and the means by which it is achieved.

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What causes the characteristic 'gleam' in the eye of a living being?

The title is pretty much what I seek to know. Unless the other person is play-acting, one can often make out the eye of a living person has a shine-of-life to it; a cadaver does not. Similarly the ...
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630 views

The genetic and physiological origins of laughter?

This Wikipedia article defines laughter in many terms, such as... "a visual expression of happiness, or an inward feeling of joy" and "a part of human behavior regulated by the brain, ...
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124 views

Do tall people have more cells?

Within a single species, how does the relative number of cells in the body relate to the relative size of the organism? Let's say we take two humans, one of them is 6 feet tall and the other one is 5 ...
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1k views

Do hot drinks cool you down?

It is quite the old wives tale that drinking a hot drink cools you down. If you don't really think about it it does seem somewhat logical: increasing temperature will cause your body to try and cool ...
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448 views

How are the gene sequences of individual sperm and egg cells “randomized”?

What I mean by "randomized" is, in the place where an egg cell or sperm cell is made, what is the mechanism by which each one is not made identically? Though I am a layman, I'm pretty sure that if the ...
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63 views

Task-dependent “reversed” handedness: why use left hand for some tasks? How is it controlled by the brain?

I am right-handed. Which means that when I hammer down a nail, I hold the nail in my left hand, with which I can hold it straight and at a controlled position. This is true in situations where the ...
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174 views

Skeletal muscles in clam

Although skeletal muscle fatigues fairly rapidly, clams have a protein called paramyosin that allows them to sustain contractions for up to a month. What might be the role of paramyosin at the ...
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257 views

Cat purring: What are some possible underlying mechanisms behind purring and bone remodeling and formation?

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=why-do-cats-purr The article above says that cats purr mostly when they're wounded or under duress. They hypothesis that cats purring leads to ...
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126 views

Do dogs have something different about their physiology that allows them to pant without hyperventilating?

I was wondering this as I considered how effective panting would be for humans as a means of cooling.
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330 views

What metabolic activities are performed by a developing human fetus's liver?

I understand that organ function varies with the stages of development. Does a fetal liver EVER perform lipogenesis, gluconeogenesis, make bile, etc? Or does it only begin performing these actions ...
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211 views

Biological Pathway of Lipid Hypothesis

I've read a lot on both sides of the debate of low carb vs low fat diets trying to make some sense of what is being proposed. The lipid hypothesis runs roughly along the lines that we have lots of ...
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159 views

Why is the human body able to repair a broken bone and not a heart muscle?

The human body can repair skin/organ laceration, fractures, even repair nerves - albeit the duration and rate of recovery differ. For instance: The burn scar on my arm from the hot soldering iron ...
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521 views

What really happens when a body is tired?

This may be anecdotal; please feel free to vote to close. After staying awake for an extended duration, I usually find myself having to take extra effort to focus my eyes on an object. Similarly ...
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101 views

functional hypocholesterolemia due to very high HDL or low LDL?

Nutritional and medical recommendations about cholesterol seem to focus exclusively on hypercholesterolemia, and as such, they provide only a maximum desirable level for LDL and a minimum for HDL. ...
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143 views

How long can a bee surive in a jar?

So, some people and I encountered an adventure game where you have a bee in a jar and need to move it from place to place before it suffocates, and someone tried to find out how long a bee would ...
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56 views

Disproportion in cranial nerve innervation?

The cranial nerve innervation is highly disproportionate, as far as humans are concerned. I am not sure of the advantage of being innervated by cranial nerve versus being innervated by a normal ...
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94 views

Is it possible to have life in vacuum?

I just got struck by curiosity now: Intuition says no, but I've never had confirmation of it.
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47 views

Is the empty GI tract a hollow tube with air inside, or is it generally collapsed until food is eaten?

I have heard that "air in the GI tract" results in flatulence and burping etc, however I initially assumed that the "empty" GI tract was a hollow tube filled with air anyway. So on an empty stomach ...
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91 views

What are some examples of scaling laws in biology?

I've seen that metabolic rate scales logarithmically as function of mass for many animals over an extremely large span of parameters. What other scaling laws exist at the individual level?
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109 views

What protocol does the nervous system use?

I just read How does an inhibitory synapse communicate to the cell body of a neuron? and found myself asking this question ... hopefully I'm not asking the same thing Any body possessed of a nervous ...
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99 views

What limits the size of fish compared to marine mammals?

The largest extant fish species is the whale shark (Rhincodon typus). With a length of 13 meters and a mass of about 20-30 metric tons, the whale shark is relatively small compared to the largest ...
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116 views

How does ethanol interact with insulin?

I know that ethanol increases insulin secretion--could someone explain why? All I have found till now is experimental data analyses. I am interested in mechanism of alcohol consumption.
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249 views

Extraretinal photoreception in mammals? [duplicate]

A Finnish firm Valkee sells light-ear-plugs against thing such as jetlag. I asked a researcher in Aalto university how do they really work and he responded ...
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151 views

Is there a way for a 19th century scientist to prove that the octopus doesn't revive?

Say a sophiscated scientist in the 19th century noted that applying soy sauce on a dead octopus leads to movement of the legs, as a result of the voltage differences resulting from the salt in the soy ...
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138 views

Is a raised baseline between T and QRS normal in any ECG lead?

Here are excerpts from an unknown ECG lead. I find it weird that the "baseline" changes after the T wave and doesn't return until after the following QRS complex. Is that normal/expected for any lead? ...
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38 views

What are the molecular mechanisms that make the turtle brain more resistant to hypoxia?

I know that turtle brains, particularly those of individual species that hibernate and burrow are particularly resilient to hypoxia and any tissue damage secondary to a hypoxic event. What are the ...
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52 views

How much can you learn about species variation from a skeleton?

I just read about the discovery of the 1.8-million-year-old human skull in Georgia, and how it suggests that early humans were all one species instead of distinct ones. Would an archaeologist ...
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231 views

Why does it hurt more when you touch a nerve directly?

I am not a biologist nor know much about biology (so please explain in layman's terms) however I have always been curious as to why this is. What causes the difference in pain between touching an ...
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684 views

Conversion rate of topical Retinol to Retinoic Acid (Tretinoin)?

I'm wondering if someone out there has more information than me. Retinoids have well known metabolic pathways in vivo, and it's usually something like: ...
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257 views

What causes instinctive behaviour?

Some actions, almost behaviour, exist that are common across a species. For instance, based on personal observation, human babies try to taste anything new they encounter until they are a few score ...
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94 views

What type of force holds my body rigid & doesn't make it collapse?

My query is that as atoms & its molecules have inter & intra molecular forces,like that only what type of force keeps the cells bonded to each other & prevent it from collapsing ever ...
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90 views

Dimensionless number for blood volume

Comments from the question How is the blood volume of a living organism measured without killing it? by @Nico discussed that the time of blood recirculation scales with the size of the organism. I was ...
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328 views

Does Amphibian embryo's blastocoel become a primitive yolk sac without yolk?

The mammalian blastocoel becomes yolk sac without yolk according to my professor. I have not found any evidence that such a thing happens in amphibians like frog. I need to be able to compare and ...
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260 views

Why is the frog genome so much larger than a fish's?

As we have heard in the summaries of the human ENCODE project, 80 per cent of junk DNA appears to have an essential function. Many fish have a genome with only one tenth the size of a usual vertebrate ...
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217 views

The number of nipples (breasts) a species has?

Only mammals have mammaries and mammary glands. What evolutionary factors determines the number of mammaries (nipples/teats/breasts) a species has? Is it always an even number?
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8k views

Why are (some) cats attracted by bleach?

(Sorry if this question is only partly biological) I have noticed that several cats (including the one that keeps sleeping in my house), are fond of the odor of bleach (eau de Javel) and chlorine. ...
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44 views

Do people with gout live longer?

Antioxidants reduce damage to tissue (by scavenging the free radicals) and thus may reduce ageing.It is known that Uric acid is a very good antioxidant. People with gout have excess accumulation of ...
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37 views

How does regurgitated food go to the 3rd stomach chamber instead of going to the 1st?

Ruminants are known for their regurgitation of food; the food goes through the 1st and 2nd stomach chambers, then returns to the oral cavity in cuds. The cuds then come back into the stomach, but this ...
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51 views

Alternating Ovulation

I have often heard that right and left ovaries alternate in releasing ovum. Is it always true? What controls this rhythm? Is it simply because the other ovary is unresponsive to LH or FSH? If so, ...
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62 views

Difference in reptile inner ear and otosclerosis

In reptiles, the sound is conducted from the tympanic membrane to the inner ear by a single bone. In the disease otosclerosis the stapes of humans become fused to the other middle ear bones( or to ...
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142 views

Negative feedback in the fructose metabolism in liver

What happens in liver when large amount of fructose is consumed? I vaguely remember my biochemistry lecturer telling us that the enzymes that process fructose in the liver does not have negative ...
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991 views

What are the units of Q10 (temperature sensitivity)?

Q10 is the increase in a rate (e.g. activity of an enzyme) observed with a 10 degree temperature increase. According to Wikipedia: It is apparent that the units of R (e.g. mol/g/s) cancel out, ...
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49 views

Effect of arteriole dilation on vein

If an arteriole leading to a capillary bed is dilated will the pressure in the vein coming out from the bed decrease ? Will the velocity of blood in the vein change ?
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872 views

What is the genetic basis of blood type (ABO) system?

What is the genetic basis of the A/B/B+/O/etc. blood type system? Are there definitive loci that correspond to each or can multiple different genotypes produce the same antigen profile? Also, is the ...
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1k views

Slow-oxidative fibres vs fast-glycotic fibres

Why do slow oxidative muscle fibres contain more mitochondria compared to fast-glycolytic muscle fibres?
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102 views

Are ectopic beats considered sinus rhythm for pNN50 purposes?

One quantification of the heart rate variability of an ECG is pNNx, i.e. the proportion of consecutive NN distances that differ by at least 50 ms. When a premature beat occurs, the preceding and ...
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39 views

Why mosquito bite is confined to a certain shape?

I think this problem should be asked in a physiology forum rather than biology@ stackex but I'll give it a try. So my question is simple - why a mosquito bite is usually confined to a certain shape ...
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53 views

Attachment of muscles during molting in insects

Normally, insects' muscles are attached to their exoskeleton but what happens to this attachment when they are moulting? Sorry if this is an extremely silly question but I have wondered about it for ...
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55 views

How does Humira work when injected into patients with rheumatoid arthritis?

OK, I have rheumatoid arthritis and I've been injecting Humira 2 times a month for the last 8 months. As far as I know rheumatoid arthritis is simply an immune system disorder which makes the immune ...
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375 views

Ill effects of urea and NH3 on metabolism

What exactly does urea do that harms our body? Does it interfere with our cellular processes or disturbs the colloidal onchotic pressure of our blood? I have heard that $NH_3$ damages the brain. What ...