Public Release: 

How animals work

The power of comparative physiology

American Physiological Society

(August 19, 2002) - San Diego, Calif. - How do animals work? How has nature ensured that certain species survive and thrive in a hostile environment? What enables certain fish to dive great depths, birds to fly above Mount Everest, frogs to live in the desert, or even the simple tuna fish to swim in extreme cold? How do such animals work and how did their special attributes evolve?

These are the kinds of questions - and many of the answers - on the minds of more than 600 scientists and researchers involved in the upcoming scientific meeting, "The Power of Comparative Physiology: Evolution, Integration and Application." The meeting, sponsored by the American Physiological Society (APS), begins August 24th at the Town and Country Resort, San Diego, Calif. The gathering addresses the wide scope of the animal kingdom, and includes the following presentations:

  • Why the hammerhead shark's head is in the shape it's in. (Stephen Kajiura, Sun., 8/26 - afternoon)

  • We don't often think that animals living in water may actually suffer from heat exhaustion, but a new study indicates that this may be occurring when dolphins are chased. (D. Ann Pabst, Tue., 8/27 - afternoon)

  • Pythons can be couch potatoes, too. (Marshall McCue, Sun., 8/26 - afternoon)

  • Drinking water through your pelvic regions? This is a great trick developed by desert adapted toads. (Arne L. Viborg, Wed., 8/28 - afternoon)

  • The elephant's ears and trunk are not the only things that make them unique. For the majestic pachyderm, the real story is in the snorkeling. (J.B. West, plenary lecturer, Tues., 8/27 - morning)

  • The cockroach's legs of today may be the secret behind the robotic legs of tomorrow. (Daniel Dudek, Tue., 8/27 - afternoon)

  • "Crocodile Rock." A new study helps explain how the beating hearts of the ancient, saw-toothed reptiles stand apart from all others. (Doug Syme, Tue., 8/27 - afternoon)

  • "Sorry, Charlie." New news on tuna's ability to generate warm brain temperatures. (Keith Korsmeyer, Tue., 8/27 - afternoon)

  • The diving abilities of the muskrat may hold the key to understanding why some drowning victims survive cold waters. (Allyson Hindle, Tue., 8/27 - afternoon)

  • Men are faster than women. But does that mean bets should always be placed on the stallions? New research sheds light on gender differences in running and racing animals. (Pauline Entin, Sun., 8/25 - afternoon).

  • A small snail may be the answer to one of medicine's "holy grails:" protecting the brain from hypoxia. (Paul Donohoe, Wed., 8/28 - afternoon)

  • Mother (Nature) Knows Best: The sunflower seed may hold the key to reducing hypertension and associated loss of cognitive ability, and preventing debilitating strokes. (Vallie Holloway, Tues., 8/27 - afternoon)

  • Bears hibernate, but their body temperature drops only a few degrees. The hibernating ground squirrels gets through the winter by dropping their heart rate to a few beats per minute, breathing only a few breaths per minute and dropping their body temperature to close to zero degrees Celsius. This would be lethal if humans tried it, but can we learn something about freezing human organs? (Hannah Carey, Sun., 8/25 - morning)

  • The discovery of the oldest human ancestor is called into question by a leading physiologist who finds some "farfetched speculation." (Joseph Mastropaolo, Tue., 8/27 - afternoon)

  • In certain snakes, venom aids in digesting prey from the "inside out" while gastric secretions digest "from the outside in." (Marshall McCue, Tue., 8/27 - afternoon)

    The American Physiological Society (APS) is one of the world's most prestigious organizations for physiological scientists. These researchers specialize in understanding the processes and functions by which animals live, and thus ultimately underlie human health and disease. Founded in 1887 the Bethesda, Md.-based Society has more than 10,000 members and publishes 3,800 articles in its 14 peer-reviewed journals each year.

    SATURDAY AUGUST 24, 2002
    @ 12:00 NOON PST

    Contact: Donna Krupa: 703.527.7357
    703.967.2751 (cell) or
    APS Newsroom: August 24-29, 2002
    Town & Country Resort, San Diego, CA
    Tel: 619.908.5069/619.291.7131 ext. 3941

Disclaimer: AAAS and EurekAlert! are not responsible for the accuracy of news releases posted to EurekAlert! by contributing institutions or for the use of any information through the EurekAlert system.