Greetings everybody, Happy FRIDAY!
As you can tell biobunch has been busy today, giving our blog a make over. It was an emotional rollercoaster ride, however we got through it and have resulted in a better looking blog. Anyways here are the facts for today. Have fun!
Feather pecking is when one bird repeatedly pecks at the feather of another bird. It is a huge behavioral problem in egg producing chickens and can be due to being stressed (including heat stress). The result is poor plumage, patches of feather loss, and skin damage which can develop into injurious pecking, and loss of the protective function of the bird’s plumage can trigger cannibalism.

If you think you know weird animal sexual behavior, you might agree that this technique is the weirdest? Sea slugs stab each other between their eyes, which is thought to be a form of mind control as the stabbing allows for the injection of chemicals that allow the opportunity to change the other’s behaviour to its own advantage. To watch it in action click here.

Interestingly, the reason behind this physical difference lies in the difference in activity levels between the two cats. Domestic cats are primarily nocturnal whereas tigers are crepuscular- meaning that they are most active in the morning and the evening. Don’t underestimate their night vision powers as they can see about six times better than us at night! This night vision can be explained by two words, Tapetum Lucidum. This gives the ability to reflect light back through the retina increasing the light available for the photo-receptors. And just something to blow your minds, all tigers have been found to see in full color just like us!

Hope you have enjoyed this weeks Friday facts segment. Thank you for stopping by. If you would like us to mention a fact in next week Friday facts, make sure to leave a comment. Come back for more articles!

Over and out.

Featured Must Watch Video: 101 East: Return of the Lizard king

Greetings everybody, 
today we will be discussing sexual arousal/attraction and the biology that defines sexual preference. Sexual attraction is courting on the basis of sexual desire. “Attraction has a lot more to do with science and evolution than people might think” says Dr. Laura Berman. Unconsciously humans have evolved several mechanisms to enable us to pick out our perfect mates.
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Phenotypes and sexual  attraction

Facial symmetry is considered a sign of beauty and is an indication for good genes for reproductive health. In a study conducted by Joanna E. Scheib, Steven W. Gangestad and Randy Thornhill it was found that symmetry in males has an effect on sexual behavior as men with a higher degree of symmetry had more sexual partners compared to men with a lower degree of symmetry. According to a University of Edinburgh study symmetrical faces correlate with long term mental performance. Good facial symmetry is an implication that a male has experienced fewer genetic disturbances (e.g. genetic mutations) and environmental pressures (e.g. toxins and malnutrition) while growing. "If you choose a perfectly symmetrical partner and reproduce with them, your offspring will have a better chance of being symmetric and able to deal with perturbations." said evolutionary biologist Randy Thornhill of the University of New Mexico.

Aside from symmetry, structure of an individual’s face also gives an indication to fertility. Estrogen is responsible for the formation of a female's lower face, chin and brow, making them relatively small and short in order for eyes to appear prominent. On the other hand male faces are carved by testosterone, which helps establish a larger and square lower face, jaw and a prominent brow. Studies found that males preferred the more infant-like (small jaw, large eyes and defined cheekbones) female faces which indicated high levels of estrogen. Whereas female choice was depended on how far along the woman was in her menstrual cycle. Females prefer a male with a masculine face when ovulating and the more feminine one when not.

Image Source - Figures with WTH ranging from 0.9 to 0.5
Of Course, body’s proportions and shape play a vital part too. Waist-hip ratio signify reproductive health in both men and women. Sex hormones (testosterone in men and estrogen in women) determine where fat is stored on the body. If a woman creates the right combination and quantity of estrogen, her WHR(waist-hip ratio) will instinctively result with a body with a WHR in the desired range. Likewise individuals in the model hip-ratio range are less prone to diseases including cardiovascular disorders, cancer, and diabetes.

A WHR of 0.7 in western cultures is most desired in women. However males from South America and Africa preferred a WHR of 0.8/0.9. And a ratio of 0.9 in men’s bodies has been considered most attractive to women. However WCR (waist-chest ratio) plays a significant role in male attraction as broad shoulders and muscular chest with a slim waist (known as “V” shape) is often found attractive by females.

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Biochemical Odors

In the modern age today men and women spend vast amount of time on seeking a trademark scent that is found attractive by the opposite sex/same sex. But why? It only covers the natural odors scientists say that potential mates find most appealing. Odor affects us unconsciously and evolutionary biologists believe the sense of smell was heavily depended upon in an ancestral environment. A group of individuals (which might have included extended family) living together wouldn’t be able to determine whether they were blood-relative, to avoid incest with kin, it was likely that scent was used to avoid this. In a study by Anja Rikowski and Karl Grammer women rated the scent of t-shirts to classify whether the odor was attractive or unattractive. Females were more attracted to males with dissimilar MHC (major histocompatibility complex - a collection of genes that are related to immune systems) from their own in order to provide offspring a stronger and diverse immune system.

Odors let individuals know when a woman is fertile and when a man’s testosterone levels are high. When women are ovulating they secrete copulins a scent found appealing by men. Testosterone levels rise and men secrete androstenone an odor that repels women who aren’t ovulating. Usually a male can rate a female is attractive or not by looking at her photograph, however it was found that men who inhaled a low dose of copulins lost the ability to distinguish between an attractive and a less attractive female due to a rise in the levels of testosterone which reduces clear thinking.

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Cognition and attraction

Just like a drug, love and sexual attraction largely revokes around dopamine reward system in brain circuitry. Dopamine stimulates desire and reward by triggering an intense rush of pleasure.

The topics we have covered today can differ from person to person, however are all naturally a part of the human species.

Over and out.

Greetings everybody,

EXCITING NEWS! Biobunch are guest bloggers on the University of Lincoln Environmental sustainability blog and this post is our first post for their blog.

In association with Lincoln City Council and Transition Lincoln the University of Lincoln’s Environment team held a screening of Edible City: Grow the Revolution. A documentary about growing good food in an urban environment. Filmed in San Francisco Bay Area the film tells the stories of people who are digging their hands into the dirt, in order to make a healthy, renewable local food system.

Permaculture books and magazines available during the night to answer the questionable mind. 

neighborhood with no source for vegetables or fresh food was transformed into an area with thriving organic gardens, with the help of a large range of activists, farmers and motivated organisations including Food First, Oakland Food Connection, Three Stone Hearth, Dig Deep Farms, Willow Rosenthal of City Slicker Farms, Alemany Farm, Roots of ChangeJim Montgomery of Green Faerie Farm, Mas humus, Soil AssociationHope Collaborative and LEAF.

Over 50% of the world’s population live in cities and our usage of fossil fuels have increased and continues to do so as the process of globalization continues. Natural gas, Coal and Oil commonly known as our fossil fuels fueled world war two, they were used to make nerve gas and making the bombs that defined an era. These same fuels are now being used for ‘conventional’ agriculture which now drives soil erosion, water depletion and deforestation to the extremes.
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Questions began to pop in our minds when watching Edible City like can we consider ourselves happy when our bodies are chronically deprived of needed nutrients caused by buying into the fast food industry? What will happen when the agriculture system collapses from peak oil? "Fresh food and clean air isn't optional, It is needed". So the good food movement developed in order to solve such issues, and what better place to resolve them than in the city?

Edible City touched on a lot of topics that the 21st Century has to face such as the concept of food security and the desperate attempt to secure our nation's food supply, turning empty wasted plots into a prosperous potential garden, placing larger emphasis on nutrition in the national curriculum and our reintegration into nature through the food industry.

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If there was one thing that you were to take away from the documentary, it should be that growing food in urban cities and investing in self sufficiency is a realistic plan. Realistic because the resources, money and technology are present, all that is needed are massive social movements to put it out there. It only starts with a tiny step, from one healthy individual to a healthy family eventually leading to healthy communities and thereafter a healthy nation. Why would you not want to invest into sustainable agriculture? Especially when it creates jobs.

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After the documentary viewing, there was a selected panel that participated in a question and answer session, covering a range of topics including community growing incentives under construction and running in Lincolnshire, pest control and alternatives to pesticides, social and marketing aspects of such projects, community garden tool kits, vertical gardens and much more.

From left to right: Rick Aron of Garden Organic, Deano Martin a permaculture practitioner and Mary Whiting of Green Synergy
Permaculture (derived from the PERMAnent agriCULTURE) is working with nature, specifically with agricultural ecosystems and creating something sustainable and self-sufficient. There are three core ethics of permaculture:
1. Earth care: ongoing nurturing of the earth to ensure it is healthy as without a healthy earth humans cannot flourish. Catering all life systems to advance and increase.
2. People care: Attention to self, kin and community by providing access to essential resources for their existence.
3. Fair share: setting limits and reinvesting surpluses back into the system.

Leaflet for the permaculture design course available for Lincoln residentials
We hope you attempt to adopt these ethics in your daily life as that will make the conversion from being heavily dependent  service consumers  to becoming  independent and productive citizens successful. It will build skills and most likely improve the quality of our individual lives.

The next screenings in the University of Lincoln - Environmental series
Over and out. 

Greeting everybody, HAPPY FRIDAY!
The use of Cannabis for medicinal purposes dates back to around 4000 years ago and all over the world including China, India and Middle East. In the 19th century (before it was made illegal in the UK) J.R.Reynolds (a physician) prescribed cannabis for Queen Victoria in order to relieve menstrual cramps, morning sickness and labor pains.

Dogs obtain an alar fold - a bulbous obstruction inside their nostrils which heightens their sense of smell. In a typical dogs nose there are roughly 220 million olfactory cells, whereas humans only have a mere five million. Dogs’ sense of smell is largely 10,000-100,000 times superior to that of humans. It is no secret dogs can detect diseases such as cancers. A study in 2006 confirmed this theory when three Labrador Retrievers and two Portuguese Water Dogs went through several weeks of training with breath samples that contained volatile organic compounds (VOCs) which are associated to the presence of cancer. The dogs positively identified 99% of the lung cancer samples.

The sound of babies crying makes us more vigilant, even if we’re not the baby’s parents. In a study conducted at the University of Oxford, brains were scanned of 28 people while they listened to the sound of babies crying; adults crying; cats meowing; and dogs whining. The scans showed an outbreak  of activity in the Middle Temporal Gyrus (an area implicated in emotional processing and speech) and the Orbitofrontal Cortex (area known for its role in reward and emotion processing) in response to the sound of a baby cry. Therefore a baby's cry is identified as important even before our brains have had a chance to fully process the information.

Hope you have enjoyed this weeks Friday facts segment. Thank you for stopping by. If you would like us to mention a fact in next week Friday facts, make sure to leave a comment. Come back for more articles!

Over and out. 

Greetings everyone,  
Café scientifique is a simplistic yet amazing science initiative run in 42 towns across the UK. Scientists swap the laboratory setting for the pub/cafe/restaurants/informal setting to explore and discuss current ideas in science and technology. Originated in Leeds in 1998, the cafes ran monthly and covered a variety of scientific topics including the mad cow disease, big bang, biodiversity, GM crops, cancer, cloning, Darwinism, ecology, global warming and more.

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Bringing science back into the social scene, last evening @biobunch attended the first café scientifique in Lincoln delivered by Dr Rajiv Machado (a Senior Lecturer in the School of Life sciences at University of Lincoln). The discussion was about unraveling the genome: the future of human health care or Pandora’s box?

“The last few years have seen a revolution in our ability to rapidly analyse and study the human genome. These advances have led to innumerable breakthroughs in the understanding of human disease, leading to an efficient information transfer from lab bench to hospital bedside. Yet, accessing the complete genetic blueprint of populations comes with inherent risk that, if not ethically managed, may lead to disastrous consequences. I’ll be throwing this topic open for discussion.”
- Dr Machado
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Let’s cast our minds back before the human genome project, a time when the genome was often seen as a tangled mass that was interconnected. Where this mass begins or ends or even what direction it goes was shrouded in mystery. Then finally in the year 2001 science became enlightened through the completion of the Human Genome Project!! We found from this that 1.5% of the genome encodes for actual functional proteins and the introns that were often referred to as junk DNA has now been found to regulate the expression of the functional genes!

The human genome was first sequenced around 10 years ago and cost $2.7bn. Since then the cost has dropped to an affordable $5000. Technology has brought us to be able to detect the causative variant in 4 minutes. People might find it intriguing to find genes that influence their looks, physiology, disease, tastes and innumerable other characteristics, and for those there’s personal sequencing services such as deCODEme, 23andMe and personal genome project.

In an article published by Scientific American they stated that the human genome project has disappointed them as so far as it has failed to provide the medical miracles that the scientists had promised thus leaving many complex diseases still unexplained.
How can unraveling the genome be so important in terms of future human healthcare?
When the article published in the Scientific American mentions the phrase ‘medical miracles’  they mean the controversial field of using our genome for personalized medicine. But why? Simple when you walk into Boots, Superdrug or any pharmacy you will be greeted by a vast array of drugs all of which treat us not as an individual but as a general population. Personalized medicine is based on the principle that we are all individuals with individual metabolisms, the genes expressed in one are not necessarily expressed in the another, so then why do we not have antibiotics that are tailored to us, or you specifically.

How can unraveling genome lead to a Pandora box?
The concept of Pandora box originates from Greek mythology, this theory is based on the idea of not being able to get out of what we have gotten ourselves into. Curiosity will start with how far can we go with this technology and then finding ourselves going far beyond the limits and that's when ethics plays an important role in redefining the limitations.   

Ethics is always front and center in science and why shouldn't it be without research would have no limitations? On a side note ethics can reach grey areas the Nazi’s were leading in pioneering research on cancer however none of this research no matter how beneficial can be used because it was carried out unethically. Getting back to the genome insurance seems to be the one that seems to be a global worry, surely sequencing your whole genome could lead to incidental findings i.e you could find out that you are very prone to developing late onset of a certain disease this could dramatically affect an individual's insurance, and of course your employability. 
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With advances in genetic screening it does not take an imaginative person to leap to the idea of ‘designer babies’! Now this isn't just making your baby be less prone to a genetic disease, this is having a major hand in generating the genes expressed in your future child. Suddenly options to make your baby super intelligent, super athletic basically a super baby will soon be following behind. Of course everyones' main view is that this could be a rich persons opportunity it is well known fact that new treatments often go onto private healthcare and then takes many years to work its way down to NHS.
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Would you like to be able to surf your genome on a tablet and find everything about yourself, or  are you against it and everything associated with it? Leave a comment below to express your opinion.

Over and out.

Greetings everyone,

Today marks a marvellous day because it is the second post of the new series 'Biology Behind' every other week we will take a theory, a disease, or a natural phenomenon and look at how biology drives it into being! so without further a dew we give to you today's post...

In the UK there are approximately 700,000 people out of a population of 61 million who are diagnosed with dementia, and it was found that more than 70 diseases/disorders are associated with this condition.


Post highlight: Did you know that Dementia is actually not a disease in itself such as Alzheimer's, it is in fact diseases that can eventually lead to dementia!

Like most conditions, dementia is pretty hard to define however we found one that seemed to be widely accepted. Dementia is thought to be a progressive deterioration in cognitive function, more than what is expected to be from normal aging and is due to damage or disease. 
The symptoms that are associated with dementia are split into two different categories
  1. Cognitive symptoms: impairments in language, praxis, judgement, visuospatial function and related mental activities.
  2.  Non-cognitive symptoms: disturbance in behaviour, mood, belief and experience (hallucinations).

Now that we have outlined the symptoms that come with dementia, it is important to note that although dementia is a development from other diseases there are 'types' of dementia.

So, we know that dementia is not a disease but caused by a disease, we know that when talking about the symptoms of dementia that we can break it down into two separate categories, no we move onto what factors or diseases can lead to dementia. 

Alzheimer's disease: unsurprisingly, this is the most common cause of dementia. The chemistry and structure of the brain in an Alzheimer's patient changes and their brain cells begin to die prematurely.

Stroke (vascular problems): this is as a cause with problems of the blood vessels. All blood vessels leading to the brain are extremely important as the brain needs a rich and continuous supply of oxygen and when interrupted brain cells begin to die causing vascular dementia.

Dementia with Lewy bodies: this is where tiny spherical clusters of protein build up within the nerve cell, thereby affecting chemical signalling between one nerve cell and the next. It affects the patients memory, concentration and ability to speak, it is also often mistaken for Parkinson's Disease.

Frontotemporal dementia: this dementia includes Picks disease (this is considered to be a progressive form of dementia involving localised atrophy of the brain.) In this form the front part of the brain is damaged which in the short term affects behaviour and personality and then later on the memory starts to become affected.

Other diseases that can lead to dementia are: progressive supra nuclear palsy; Korsakoffs syndrome; Binswangers disease; HIV and AID's and Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease; common Parkinson's disease; Huntington's disease; Motor Neurone disease and Multiple Sclerosis. People with high blood glucose levels have a higher risk of dementia even without diabetes.

This brings us to the end of our post! we hope that you enjoyed this post and make sure that you visit our blog again on Wednesday for the animal of the week wondering what it is well you are going to have to come back and see! And we will leave you with this fact it has been proven that being by lingual or having the ability to speak  another language other than your own could help in preventing dementia.Well in that case...

Cambio y fuera!

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