zoology biology benno meyer rochow science blog heart

Monkey Business

Overworked and Overexcited: Heart Attack

Many a human life is claimed by a heart attack. Heart attacks are some of the main causes of premature deaths. Job and family-related stresses are implicated; genetic disposition, social habits and diets are held responsible and even a “broken heart” (as I know from personal experience) can affect your life-sustaining pump in a bad way. How? There is in the brain an almond-sized structure called the amygdala. That structure is the seat of strong emotions like fear, pleasure and sadness. Constant activation of the amygdala, let’s say by an intense feeling of disappointment, leads to an increased risk of cardiac vascular dysfunction or disease, which can ultimately lead to someone “dying of a broken heart”.


Vladimir Kovalesky’s Insights

Horses and Hooves

Substantiated by vast numbers of fossil bones from North America and Europe, representing different geological strata, T.H. Huxley (grandfather of three very famous Huxleys!) had concluded that the horse had evolved from dog-sized ancestors with 4 fingers on each front and three toes on each back extremity. So, towards the latter quarter of the 19th century he had basically unravelled the palaeontological pedigree of the modern horse. —>


The Enigma of Fever

Worms, insects, lizards: they all can develop a fever

Most of us, especially those with children, know how alarming and worrying elevated body temperature, in other words fever, can be. We use a thermometer to find out whether a child is feverish, but traditionally Trobriand Islanders used head lice which they’d put on the heads of their children. These ectoparasites do not like high temperatures and therefore their disappearance from the heads of a child would indicate to the parent that the child has developed a fever and something is wrong with the child’s health; after all a healthy child entertains head lice. Fever is probably the oldest and best known manifestation of an infection and ill health, but its function is still debated and it is not generally accepted whether it’s a harmful or trivial, temporary side effect, or whether it is actually beneficial. —>