More Complex than Previously Thought – Part XII – Cellular Movement

Research out of Brown University has found that cells move in ways that are much more complex than previously thought.  It’s yet another example of the complexity of life’s design that consistently surprises biologists.

“We’ve learned that cells move in much more complex ways than previously believed,” said Christian Franck, assistant professor in engineering at Brown and the co-lead author of the study published online in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. “Now, we can start to really put numbers on how much cells push and pull on their environment and how much cells stick to tissues as they move around and interact.”

In the study, Franck and co-lead author Stacey Maskarinec, who both conducted the experiments while graduate students at the California Institute of Technology, placed cells on top of a 50-micron-thick water-based gel designed to mimic human tissue. They added into the gel spheres about a half-micron in diameter that lit up when jostled by the cells’ actions. By combining two techniques — laser scanning confocal microscopy and digital volume correlation — the scientists tracked the cells’ movement by quantifying exactly how the environment changed each time the cell moved. The team recorded results every 35 minutes over a 24-hour period.

What they found was cells move in intriguing ways. In one experiment, a cell is clearly shown operating in three dimensions by extending feelers into the gel, probing at depth, as if thrusting a leg downward in a pool. The Brown and Caltech scientists also found that as a cell moves, it engages in a host of push-pull actions: It redistributes its weight, it coils and elongates its body, and it varies the force with which it “grips,” or adheres, to a surface. Combined, the actions help the cell generate momentum and create a “rolling motion,” as Franck described it, that is more like walking than shuffling, as many scientists had previously characterized the movement.

“The motion itself is in three dimensions,” Franck said.

Reference:
Brown University (2009, December 17). Cells move in mysterious ways, experiments reveal. ScienceDaily. Retrieved December 17, 2009.

A Naturalistic Fairy Tale-Part XXX

And because we know that you may be less than appropriately scared about global warming we do now turn to what we have discovered from history. We ask that you not be distracted by Climategate, and listen carefully to what we have to tell you about the past.

We did discover a fossil in Antarctica of an animal that lived 252 million years ago.1 It was during the time when Pangea was whole, and the volcanoes did emit high amounts of greenhouse gasses. This gasification of the Earth did produce catastrophic global warming resulting in the death of 80-95 percent of life in the oceans and on land (Praise Science).

So, we do imagine that this fossil is of an animal that had no fur and “probably laid eggs.” We imagine it on the line between reptiles and mammals. We did find some related fossils in Africa, and therefore pieced together that these animals migrated south and lived with other animals that were probably the ancestors of mammals.

The team’s findings, published in the journal Naturwissenschaften, may offer insights into potential survival techniques for modern day animals threatened by climate change .

“Countless species are threatened by global warming today,” said Frobisch. “A prime example of a threatened species is the polar bear, whose habitat becomes increasingly smaller as a result of melting sea ice in the Arctic Circle.”

“However,” he added, “it is questionable whether the polar bear or other threatened animals can respond in the same way as Kombuisia did in the Permian, simply because human activities severely limit the animals’ possibilities.”

He concluded: “The primary lesson we should learn from the studies of extinction due to climate change in the past is that it is of utmost importance today to control and reverse human induced global warming by taking counteractive measures, such as greatly reducinggreenhouse gas emissions.”

Anyway, the animals and fossils are irrelevant, because the point is, if we don’t act soon, we’ll all be dead in a couple hundred years (Praise Science). Please don’t give up on being terrified of the environment, because Mother Earth is very angry at what you are doing to her. She will punish and probably kill you if you don’t straighten up and curtail your gaseous emissions.

1) Ancient animals escaped warming in Antarctica