zoology biology benno meyer rochow science blog pregnancy human dog

False Alarm for Female Physiology

Have you ever heard of “pseudocyesis”?

Teachers can have an enormous impact on whether a child likes a subject or not. I, for instance, hated math at middle school, but with a new teacher at high school I began to love math to an extent that I wanted to study it at university. History was another subject, whose teacher killed my early interest in it, because he demanded that we kids byhearted hundreds of historic dates. Had he told us of the pseudo-pregnancies (also known as false or phantom pregnancy and pseudocyesis) of Queen Mary in 1555, Queen Draga of Serbia in 1900 and the Zar’s wife Alexandra in 1903, history classes could have been so much more interesting! —>


The Race of Life and death

Life is a continuous struggle – is there anyone who’d disagree? Life is a race, a race of the fittest to survive as Herbert Spencer observed 150 years ago after reading Charles Darwin’s “On the Origin of Species” opus. And it starts with the sperm. In most animal species the male gametes, also known as spermatozoa or spermatozoons, vastly outnumber the eggs and often the ratio is millions to one. It is therefore only an incredibly tiny percentage of sperm that are successful and meet, enter, and fuse with the egg cell nucleus to start a new individual. —>

To Know or not to Know Yourself

Are animals aware of themselves?

In his book “The Self and its Brain” the famous Australian 1963 winner of the Nobel Prize in “Physiology or MedicineSir John Eccles addressed the question whether an animal’s self-consciousness was the product of its brain or whether the brain served the animal’s self. Eccles, although an Australian by birth, it is often forgotten that he served as a professor at New Zealand’s Otago University from 1944 to 1951 and that during this period he devised a completely new course in physiology for medical students and carried out fundamentally important work, published in the journal NATURE as a paper co-authored by A.K. McIntyre. In 1951, he disproved his own theory of electrical synaptic transmission and accepted that the transmission was chemically mediated. His lab at that time was described as a “chicken cage of oscilloscopes, wires and animals” and he himself was seen as the “caricature of the mad scientist”, who once spent 24 hours “cooped up” in his cage . —>