Coma x5 Chameleon

It’s (Almost) Fun Fact Friday!

Fact: A person’s level of consciousness is measurable

First published in 1974, the Glasgow Coma Scale was initially used to record the level of consciousness in patients who had experienced traumatic brain injury. Since then it has been revised and can be applied to all trauma patients.

Does anyone remember those fun quizzes in the back of magazines that would usually determine what colour your aura is or what kind of kisser you are based on a score calculated by how you answered the questions? No?

Well, the GCS is kind of like that…

A patient can score between 3 and 15 on the scale; 3 indicates a deep unconsciousness and/or death (not good) and 15 indicates a fully awake person (good). There are three different categories measured within the scale: Eye Response, Verbal Response, and Motor Response. The individual sum from each category is considered in addition to the total of all three. Here’s the score criteria:

Eye Response (E)
1. No eye opening
2. No eye opening in response to pain stimulus
3. Eye opening to speech
4. Eyes opening spontaneously

Verbal Response (V)
1. No verbal response
2. Incomprehensible sound (such as moaning but no words)
3. Inappropriate words (random, articulated words; no sentences/conversation)
4. Confused (responds to questions, but is disoriented/confused)
5. Oriented (coherent, appropriate responses to questions such as name, age, etc.)

Motor Response (M)
1. No motor response
2. Decerebrate posturing accentuated by pain (extensor response)
3. Decorticate posturing accentuated by pain (flexor response)
4. Withdrawal from pain
5. Localizes to pain (purposeful movements towards painful stimuli)
6. Obeys commands

Quick example: A patient is opening their eyes when spoken to, but are unable to speak or make noise and have no motor response. Their score would be recorded as
“GCS 5= E3 V1 M1”; severe. Try giving yourself, or someone near you a GCS score!

Generally, brain injuries are classified as
• Severe, GCS < 8-9
• Moderate, GCS 8/9-12
• Minor, GCS ≥ 13

It should be noted that the use of this scale has limited applicability to children for various reasons, and special scores are given to patients with severe facial/eye damage which makes it difficult to test eye or verbal response. And I’m sure the use of this scale is actually more complicated than it might seem.

That was a lot of information, so let’s end with something fun!

Chameleon

 

Advertisements

Creature Corner, Vol. 6

Cuttlefish

Cuttle6

The last post sparked my interest in squids, but while researching squids I found a close cousin to be even more unique! Despite its name (derived from the Old Norse word for cushion?), the cuttlefish is not something I would be too keen to cuddle with. Like squids, cuttlefish have an ink sac, which secretes a characteristically brown ink to evade predators. Historically, that brown ink was used as a dye called sepia (thank goodness we have filters to tint our photos now, right?!).

For the record, cuttlefish aren’t even technically fish, they’re molluscs.

Cuttle5

While there are approximately 120 different species of cuttlefish, they are all characterized by the presence of a ‘cuttlebone’, which is a an internal, porous shell made of aragonite (better known as calcium carbonate). Cuttlebones are often given to caged birds such as parakeets as a source of dietary calcium.

 

They eat a fairly typical ocean diet: small molluscs, crabs, shrimp, etc., and they are preyed on by animals such as dolphins, sharks, fish, seals,  and seabirds. Humans are also known to eat cuttlefish.

Cuttle1

These guys inhabit shallow, tropical/temperate ocean waters ad can be found along the coasts of East & South Asia, Western Europe, the Mediterranean, and all coasts of Africa and Australia. Basically anywhere that isn’t the Americas.

Typically ranging in size from 15 to 25 cm (6 to 10 in), the largest species, Sepia apama, aka the Australian giant cuttlefish, has reached over 50 cm (20 in) in length and 10.5 kg (23 lb) is mass. See below:

Cuttle3

Recent studies indicate cuttlefish are among the most intelligent invertebrates; they also have one of the largest brain-to-body size ratios of all invertebrates.

Enough of the not-so-interesting, here’s what make cuttlefish really cool:

They have W-shaped pupils and have 2 spots of concentrated sensor cells on the retina, one to look more forward, and the other to look farther behind. Unlike mammals who focus their vision by reshaping the eye lens, a cuttlefish changes focus by shifting the position of the entire lens with respect to the retina. Wild. Cuttlefish have no blind spot since they can see forward and behind at the same time, and though they cannot perceive colors they do have an enhance perception of contrast.

Cuttle4

Instead of hemoglobin, red and iron-containing, cuttlefish have copper-containing hemocyanin pumping oxygen through their 3 seperate hearts (cuttlefish have 3 hearts!). This makes their blood a pretty cool greenish-blue colour.

The mating rituals of cuttlefish are pretty typical of aquatic creatures, HOWEVER, male cuttlefish avoid confrontation with other males by disguising themselves as females. They change their colouring, hide their extra set of arms (males have 4 pairs, females 3), and even pretend to be holding an egg sack.

A cuttlefish’s skin might be the coolest, and most intricate part. Like a chameleon, cuttlefish can rapidly change their skin colors. They also have the ability to change their skin texture, posture, and locomotion. All of this allows cuttlefish to communicate, camouflage, or warn off predators.

That was a lot of information to read so I’ll end this with a video showing a cuttlefish changing colours. It’s pretty trippy.

Fun Fact Friday: Squid Quo Pro

Welcome to the blog’s newest addition, Fun Fact Friday (FFF, or F³)


You are about to be one of the smartest squids in your class!

Fact: Squids have donut shaped brains that encircle their esophagus.

see diagram:

Squid

Every bite a squid takes passes through the brain (just food for thought, haha). Swallowing a large enough piece of food could result in brain damage, i.e. death. I have an inkling that between the strong beaks, the saliva enzymes, and the rows of small sharp teeth the squid death toll due to over-eating must be pretty low..

And that’s it. I squid you all farewell for now!

Back in the Limelight

It’s been a long lime time since the last post, but here it is! So get your gin and tonic ready; the limes have arrived.

Have you ever wondered if limes float in water?
Probably not, but they do! (As long as they have a life jacket..)

Let’s demonstrate the beauty of buoyancy using two normal limes and two normal jars of water:

Lime1

These limes just float to the surface and just kind of bob around, so let’s skip ahead to where this gets interesting—

Same scenario: two limes, two jars of water; HOWEVER one lime is peeled, taking away it’s protective exterior.

Video CliffsNotes:

Lime2

The lime peel traps air in tiny pockets, which creates the buoyancy that pushes the lime upwards. Without that trapped air, the lime has no way to stay afloat. So always wear your lime life jacket!

Special thanks to my friends for the gift of inspiration
Song: Soco Amaretto Lime- Brand New

Womb Temperature

Things are warming up in science!
Last month a study was published involving eight lamb fetuses, in artificial wombs!

The artificial womb is essentially a clear plastic bag that is filled with a synthetic amniotic fluid. Attached to the bag is a mechanical placenta, a device that brings in nutrients, oxygen, and blood, as well as removes carbon dioxide and waste.

Over the span of 4 weeks, researchers observed lung and brain development, the lambs sprouted wool, opened their eyes, wiggled around, and even learned to swallow.

While this concept seems like something out of a Sci-Fi classic, researchers are actually hoping this technology will eventually benefit babies born prematurely.

Below is a video showing one of the lambs in the artificial womb:

 

 

For the Birds

While out in the field, I happened upon some aquatic birds—I believe they were Barrow’s Goldeneye ducks, which are thought to originally be from Iceland.

bgd*Note: I did not actually take this photo

My field companion managed to capture these alluring creatures on video while I provide commentary on the colour variations between sexes of birds:

 

Special thanks to my field companion for producing the video!( :

 

Mini-erals; pt. 3

I waited a few extra days to record this third and final crystal in the series because it’s arguably the coolest. That being said, I am proud to present the glow-in-the-dark moon crystal!

minerals10

 

I was unable to locate any information regarding what the “moon-base” actually consists of, but I’m assuming it’s packed with phosphors (particles that radiate visible light after being energized). Basically, after exposing these particles to light for a period of time they will slowly release their stored energy, emitting small amounts of “glowing” light.

So then the aqueous monoammonium phosphate solution was poured into the container.

minerals11

8 days later:

minerals12

Time to shed some light on the experiment (haha!). I exposed the crystal in the aqueous solution to a strong light for a about a minute and then I turned out the lights.

minerals13

After basking in the glow of these crystals, I poured out the aqueous solution and arranged the crystals in a protective housing. The sans-solution crystals were then exposed to light once again.

minerals14

Unfortunately, due to my extremely graceful nature, this experiment does not end happily.

minerals15

On the bright side, I still have the little glowing moon disk for future use..