Wednesday, July 10, 2013

A New Marsupial Frog Discovered in Peru

An article was released this week describing a new species of frog from high-elevation grasslands in the Andes Mountains of Peru. The newly discovered species is a member of the genus Gastrotheca, a group also known as the marsupial frogs.

Picture: Hemiphractus fasciatus by Amphibian Rescue & Conservation Project

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Backyard Foraging: Flowering Dogwood (Cornus florida)

Not only are the fruits of the dogwood edible, but they also contain a variety of beneficial antioxidants and anthocyanins. Berries from dogwood trees may also be useful for treating a variety of ailments, including tumors.

Photo credit: Henry Hartley

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Top 10 Natural Firework Displays!

Mount Shinmoedake, Photo credit: Reuters

Happy fourth of July! In light of today's holiday, I thought it might be fitting to celebrate a few of mother Earth's natural light shows. Ranging from bioluminescent waters to incredible lightning displays, there's quite a lot to take in. How many have you seen?

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

New Marsupial Species

Grey Slender Opossum, Marmosops incanus, Photo credit: Geiser Trivelato

A recent report describes a new species of mouse opossum from the highlands of Guyana and Venezuela. The new species (Marmosops pakaraimae) is apparently closely related to a species (M. parvidens) that inhabits the adjacent lowland areas.

Monday, July 1, 2013

Is coffee bad for your health?

Photo credit:

Not according to researchers at the University of Valencia and Castellón General Hospital who reviewed over 300 studies that investigated the health effects of coffee and caffeine. What they found was that, more often than not, coffee imparted measurable benefits to regular drinkers.

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Regular coffee consumption has traditionally been regarded as harmful, but the evidence is stacking up for the other side. Science no longer supports the role of coffee in a variety of conditions, such as a contributor to hypertension, osteoporosis, or cardiovascular disease. The confusion has likely arisen due to the complex effects of caffeine and the myriad of other compounds found in the typical cup of joe.

Caffeine works by binding to chemical receptors in the brain and preventing them from interacting with adenosine, which normally induces drowsiness. However, adenosine receptors are also found in most other tissues in the body, including the heart, liver, and body fat, so it is easy to see how things could get complicated.

Top 10 New Species of 2013

Photo composite by Jacob Sahertian

The top 10 new species list was announced May 23 by the International Institute for Species Exploration at Arizona State University. The 2013 list includes an amazing glow-in-the-dark cockroach, a harp-shaped carnivorous sponge and the smallest vertebrate on Earth - a tiny frog. 

Read more about each species at:

Food as medicine. What does it mean?

Photo credit: Maarten Wouters/Getty

Eating well isn’t just about keeping the tank full. It can also be about treating and preventing disease.

We all know that we should stay away from fatty foods or too much sugar, and that we should add more fruits and vegetables to our diets. But other than fiber and “nutrients”, how many of us really understand the chemistry of our food or how it might affect us?

Most cultures have traditionally used plants for therapeutic purposes, and even today, most modern medicines are still derived from plants. However, our society has become so far removed from both food and medicine that few people realize the value of fresh, whole foods or how they affect our bodies. The widespread use of processed ingredients, artificial colors and flavors, and other unpronounceable additives also means that most of us aren’t even ingesting the good stuff without knowing about it.

Starting today, I’ll be making periodic posts about a variety of beneficial foods. I’ll discuss the important compounds they contain and how they could influence your health. My first post will look at the effects of coffee and caffeine. Keep an eye out for it later today...

“Let food be your medicine, and your medicine be your food.” – Hippocrates 

Tree Vipers

Photo credit: Wikimedia Foundation

Trimeresurus is a genus of colorful and mildly toxic snakes from Asia and the Pacific Islands.