Fashion is Fur-Real! The truth about animal-based textiles

Look inside your closet. There is a pretty good chance that at least one item you own is made from an animal-based textile. Perhaps you have a leather bag, jacket, or pair of shoes? Maybe a woolen sweater or scarf? How about a down-filled winter jacket with a bit of fur around the hood? Unbeknownst to us, the purchase of these luxurious products comes at a cost to our environment and often, the inhumane death…

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Advancing the development of microneedles by probing the mosquito proboscis

Mosquitoes are known to cause millions of deaths worldwide annually due to their transmission of pathogens, such as malaria, when feeding on hosts. Mosquitoes use a combination of numbing agents, slow vibrations, and their proboscis (feeding tube) in order to pierce blood vessels and suck the blood of hosts without causing pain. To combat infectious diseases, vaccines are often injected using man-made needles. Unfortunately, these needles are often painful for the recipient and in some…

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Picking Apart Peto’s Paradox

If every cell has the potential to accumulate DNA mutations, then statistically speaking, larger animals should have an increased risk of cancer. So how does an elephant with trillions of cells outlive a mouse by nearly four decades? Statistician and epidemiologist, Richard Peto, formulated this puzzling paradox in 1977 and many researchers have tried to solve it since then. Peto’s paradox is formulated under one crucial assumption – that cells of every animal have the…

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Small Antibodies from Not So Small Organisms: Harnessing the Unique Immune System of Llamas, Camels, Sharks, and Lampreys

Antibodies are proteins produced by our immune systems in response to antigens, bits and pieces of foreign and harmful substances, including pathogens such as viruses and bacteria. The primary function of antibodies is to protect us by specifically binding antigens to neutralize them or target them for destruction. Conventional antibodies have a complex structure with a characteristic Y-shape. They consist of 4 components: 2 long pieces called heavy chains (HC) and 2 shorter pieces called…

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The Fossil that Bleeds Blue

The horseshoe crab has carved its way into a unique niche of species. Despite what its name might lead on, it is neither a crab nor a crustacean by definition, instead belonging to the arthropod distinction along the likes of spiders and scorpions. These resilient creatures have earned their rare title of ‘living fossils’ as the existing horseshoe crabs of today morphologically resemble their fossilized ancestors, dating all the way back to the Paleozoic era,445…

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The Latest Buzz: Insects as Food?

The UN estimates that the world population is projected to reach around 9.8 billion in 2050, and perhaps 11.2 billion in 21001. As such, the demand for proper sustenance will continue to climb, and when combined with the continually increasing financial and environmental costs of upkeeping livestock, alternative food products must be explored. Whilst most in the West are struggling with solutions, a ready substitute has already been embraced by other cultures: the role of…

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Animal Research: The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

Every year, more than 115 million animals are used worldwide for biomedical experimentation, and every year, several animal rights activist groups argue against this practice. This has fueled an immense debate on the ethics behind animal experimentation. There are those who believe some medical problems can only be studied in a living organism, and animals are used when no alternative is available or when it is impractical to study humans. They believe that regardless of…

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From the Wild to Terrace

The first human ancestor existed on earth between five and seven million years ago. Throughout the lengthy process of evolution, humans acquired many skills, such as language, art, and the ability to build tools. One catalyst for the development of human civilizations is the domestication of animals and plants. The history of human civilizations and animal domestication are intimately intertwined which ultimately shifted humans from migratory lifestyles to settled living patterns. Domestication Timeline The story…

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A World Beyond Our Own

All for one and one for all, united we stand divided we fall.– Alexandre Dumas, The Three Musketeers (1844) At times of a global crisis such as the COVID-19 pandemic, nations often look inwards in neglect of those who are the most vulnerable. The goal of this article is not to criticize the effectiveness of local, national, or global pandemic response, but rather to bring awareness of urgent global issues of the developing world and…

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