Category Archives: Biology

Breakthrough Science: Sea Lion learns to dance

Photo: juliacumesphoto

You could not possibly have missed an animated lion dancing to Elton John’s many songs like Can You Feel the Love Tonight” in the movie Lion King. . Have you wondered if a real-life lion could do the trick?  Well, science has gone one step further! Not your ordinary run-of-the-mill lion but a sea lion has been trained to dance! University of California’s Santa Cruz Marine Laboratory is where this feat has taken place.

Earth, Wind, Fire and a Sea Lion

The researchers in the laboratory have succeeded in getting the sea lion dance to some unexpected songs. Who says Earth, Wind & Fire are a group heard only by the 60s R&B aficionados? There is at least one sea creature that loves one of their million seller’s insistent beats and the ladies’ predominant crooning.  Seconds into the song that starts with a saxophone riff accompanied with a drum beat, you are up and jumping about, that is how catchy the tune and the presentation are.  The 1979 hit predates the CD era and singles still had their utility value. Everybody had a vinyl edition those days.

The sea lion is not the first animal to get bitten by the song. Happy Feet saw a graphically designed penguin shaking its leg to the song. Madagascar entertained children and adults alike with an assorted band of animals grooving to Boogie Wonderland, one of the best disco songs ever.

Backstreet Dancing

Earth, Wind and Fire is not the only band that the sea lion has taken a fancy to. Backstreet Boys too seem to have smitten the animal. Their “Everybody” has a striking similarity to the Earth, Wind and Fire song.  They both have same instruments playing and the arrangement is the same. So it is understandable that the sea lion is fond of both the songs and dances to them. What is ironic is the animal’s liking for another of the backstreet Boys’ song. The name of the song?  “Ironic.

Ronan With Backstreet Boys?

It is not dance in the sense you conceive it that the sea lion engages in.  She just bobs her head but in rhythm with the song. Though it is too much to expect Ronan to understand the lyrics, the name Ronan has a lot to do with today’s music, doesn’t it? Isn’t Ronan Keating part of Boyzone, a rival group? What do we call this? A coincidence or an irony?

CCR crosses the Barrier

The experiment team was led by a UCSC Department of Psychology graduate named Peter Cook. The good old Creedence Clearwater Revival’s credibility is intact, going by the popularity it still manages to cook up among three generation of people. Is it any wonder then that Ronan started her bobbing routine to CCR’s “Down on the Corner”?

Ronan has graduated on to bigger things. She is now trying to roll her eyes to Maroon 5 songs. One presumes that one of the songs is Moves Like Jagger for Mick can indeed roll everything including his eyes. Another task they are teaching her is to comment on Thom Yorke’s musical abilities.  One hopes Ronan is not subjected to “Hearing Damage” while listening to Thom Yorke!

Written By:

Whitney Dias works as a teacher at a centre of dance classes for children. Her lover for arts and expressions got a platform when she started her blog chasing her passion. That was one day and there has been looking back since. In her words her work inspires her every single morning.

The History of Genetics

History of geneticsThe knowledge that we have today regarding heredity, character traits and the human genome helps scientists and researchers discover new information about what makes human beings “human.” Over time, technology has helped science develop and test theories about genetics. During the 20th century the major breakthrough in genetics came with the discovery of DNA structure as well as the DNA code, genes and amino acids. When put together, scientists and researchers are able to target and identify key parts of our DNA and genetic makeup for variations that can lead to viruses or the development of certain traits in future generations. Although major strides have been made in the past few centuries with regards to genetics, there are still many questions to be answered and new things to discover everyday. Learn more about the history of genetics and see how researchers are working to tackle difficult problems now and into the future by reading through the infographic we put together below.

Created by Labroots, the leading social networking website for scientists, engineers, and other technical professionals.

A Lysosomal Culprit

by Stella M. Hurtley

Parkinson’s disease (PD) has been clinically linked to a rare lysosomal storage disease known as Gaucher disease (GD). Patients with GD lack the enzyme glucocerebrosidase (GCase), which leads to the accumulation of the glycolipid glucosylceramide. In PD, intracellular accumulation and aggregation of the α-synuclein protein in neurons is a key event in disease pathogenesis.



Mazzulli et al. wanted to elucidate the mechanistic link between these two disorders. In neuronal tissue culture systems and in mouse disease models, intracellular accumulation of glucosylceramide compromised lysosomal proteolysis and led to the accumulation of cytotoxic α-synuclein and neurodegeneration. Furthermore, glucosylceramide directly promoted the aggregation of purified α-synuclein in vitro. The accumulation of the α-synuclein itself in neurons also compromised the production of mature, active lysosomal GCase, generating a pathogenic cycle. Analysis of postmortem brain samples from human patients also suggested that GCase deficiencies were often linked to pathological α-synuclein accumulation. Intervention in this pathogenic cycle by increasing the efficiency of GCase targeting to lysosomes may thus represent a future approach toward ameliorating PD and other related diseases.

Cell 146, 37 (2011).