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Latest Rat Stories

2011-09-28 19:32:47

'Teleportation' of rats sheds light on how the memory is organized You're rudely awakened by the phone. Your room is pitch black. It's unsettling, because you're a little uncertain about where you are — and then you remember. You're in a hotel room. Sound like a familiar experience? Or maybe you've felt a similar kind of disorientation when you walk out of an elevator onto the wrong floor? But what actually happens inside your head when you experience moments like these? In an...

Scientists Implant Robot Brain Into Rat
2011-09-28 07:43:26

Just like right out of a Mary Shelley´s Frankenstein novel, Israeli researchers have created a robot brain in which they implanted into the skull of a rat with brain damage allowing it to function normally again. Matti Mintz of Tel Aviv University in Israel worked with colleagues to build the rodent-sized artificial cerebellum consisting of a computer chip that is electrically wired into the rat´s brain with electrodes. Since the cerebellum is responsible for coordinating...

14th Century Plague Lives On Via New Strain
2011-08-30 10:17:00

  According to a study published Tuesday, a less virulent version of the 14th century's Black Death plague is still present today. DNA testing on the skeletons of plague victims unearthed in a medieval London mass grave revealed part of the same gene sequence as the modern bubonic plague. "At least this part of the genetic information has barely changed in the past 600 years" said Johannes Krause, one of the authors of the study published in the Proceedings of the National...

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2011-08-19 15:56:23

When a male rat senses the presence of a fetching female rat, a certain region of his brain lights up with neural activity, in anticipation of romance. Now Stanford University researchers have discovered that in male rats infected with the parasite Toxoplasma, the same region responds just as strongly to the odor of cat urine. Is it time to dim the lights and cue the Rachmaninoff for some cross-species canoodling? "Well, we see activity in the pathway that normally controls how male...

2011-08-18 14:41:32

A press release from PLoS ONE New research shows how a brain parasite can manipulate rodent fear responses for the parasite's own benefit. The study, authored by Patrick House and Dr. Robert Sapolsky of Stanford University and released this week in PloS One, addressed how the single-celled parasite Toxoplasma gondii makes infected rodents more likely to spend time near cat odors. The study finds Toxoplasma-infected male rats have altered activation in brain regions involved in fear and...

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2011-08-09 07:35:00

How rodents survive arms race with toxic plants they eat Life is tough for woodrats in deserts of the U.S. Southwest. There are few plants for food, and those plants produce poison to deter rodents, insects and other animals. A new University of Utah study shows how certain woodrats put themselves on a diet to avoid poisoning: They sample a smorgasbord of toxic plants, eat smaller meals, increase time between meals and drink more water if it is available. "For decades, we have been trying to...

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2011-08-05 09:08:17

2 new species discovered Two new rodent fossils were discovered in the arid highlands of southern Bolivia by researchers from Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine and Universidad Aut³noma Tomás Frías. The larger of the two rodents, named Mesoprocta hypsodus, probably looked something like a guinea pig on stilts, said Darin Croft, an anatomy professor at Case Western Reserve. The smaller, Quebradahondomys potosiensis, was a spiny rat. An online article...

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2011-08-03 11:05:00

Researchers studying the African Crested Rat have found that it uses an ingenious tool to ward off predators. The rodent consumes a poisonous plant toxin and spits the saliva onto sponge-like hairs on its fur. Jonathan Kingdon and colleagues from the National Museums of Kenya, the Wildlife Conservation Society, and University of Oxford published their observations of this study online in the Proceedings of The Royal Society B. When attacked by predators, the rat puts on a dramatic...

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2011-07-22 06:15:00

A new study shows how house mice found unexpected ways to evolve resistance to a common poison and thrive, despite humanity's best efforts to keep them at bay. Rice University researchers analyzed a genetic mutation that has given ordinary European house mice this extraordinary ability. The gene in question, known as vkorc1, is present in all mammals and manages vitamin K.  They found that a mutation to vkorc1 makes mice resistant to warfarin, an anticoagulant used as a blood thinner...


Latest Rat Reference Libraries

Armored Rat, Hoplomys gymnurus
2012-07-17 14:40:46

The armored rat (Hoplomys gymnurus) is the only species within the Hoplomys genus. It is native to Latin America, with a range that extends from northern Honduras into northwestern Ecuador. It prefers a habitat at altitudes of up to 2,600 feet. It resides in burrows that can be up to 6.6 feet in length, and these burrows are typically located near a water source. The armored rat bears spines across its back, resembling a porcupine, and indeed, they are more related to the porcupine than...

Jamaican Rice Rat, Oryzomys antillarum
2012-07-04 11:09:29

The Jamaican rice rat (Oryzomys antillarum) is an extinct species of rodent that was once found in Jamaica. This rat is thought to have been a divergence of O. couesi, which can be found in mainland Central America. It is thought that this rat went extinct in the late 19th century due to habitat destruction and by predation and competition from introduced species like the mongoose and the brown rat. Elliott Coues noted two specimens of Oryzomys in his 1877 monograph about North American...

Sand Rat, Psammomys obesus
2012-06-20 16:14:18

The sand rat (Psammomys obesus), also known as the fat sand rat, is found in North Africa, as well as the Middle East. Its range extended from Mauritania to the Arabian Peninsula. It prefers habitats within sandy deserts, but it can be found within saline marsh areas and areas with rocky ground. It will burrow under vegetation like saltbushes, where rats can often be found foraging. There are many medical uses for the sand rat. Because of their tendency to get diabetes mellitus when fed a...

Maned Rat, Lophiomys imhausi
2012-05-23 13:57:55

The maned rat (Lophiomys imhausi), also known as the crested rat, has a range that includes Tanzania, Sudan, South Sudan, Kenya, and Uganda. It prefers a habitat located in highland forests and woodlands in these areas, while in Somalia and Ethiopia it prefers to reside in areas nearly at sea level. These rats will nest in hollow tree trunks or rocky areas, as well as within cliff-faces. The maned rat can reach a length of up to twenty-one inches, including the tail. The soft undercoat of...

Greater Cane Rat, Thryonomys swinderianus
2012-05-16 12:22:36

The greater cane rat (Thryonomys swinderianus) is one of two species of cane rats found in Africa. They prefer to reside in reed beds or riverbanks south of the Saharan Desert. They have adapted well to urbanization and will also live on plantations. The nocturnal greater cane rat lives in small groups that are led by one alpha male and will make their burrows underground or in grasses. The diet of this cane rat consists of cane plants and grasses. When frightened, the greater cane rat will...

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Word of the Day
penuche
  • A fudgelike confection of brown sugar, cream or milk, and chopped nuts.
'Penuche' is a variant of 'panocha,' a coarse grade of sugar made in Mexico. 'Panocha' probably comes from the Spanish 'panoja, panocha,' ear of grain.
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