Weekly News Roundup 8/16 to 8/22


Japan approves test to try to grow human organs in animals

A Japanese researcher says the government has approved experiments that aim to grow human organs in animals. Hiromitsu Nakauchi, MD, PhD, recently confirmed the approval to Japan’s Asahi Shimbun newspaper. Nakauchi leads a research team at the Institute of Medical Science of the University of Tokyo. He also heads a stem cell research center at Stanford University in California. Nakauchi’s research centers on creating animal embryos that contain human cells. His team sought approval to grow human cells in animal embryos and then implant them into the uteri of animals. The goal of the research is to use animals to grow fully developed organs that could be used in human medical treatments. If successful, such organs could fill a great need for humans who need organ-replacement operations. . . . more

Petting an animal for just 10 minutes can lower stress levels

When one is stressed, reaching out to or calling a pet for comfort feels, at least to pet owners, like a natural instinct. While giving your pet pats is an innately good feeling that seems to make us feel happy, scientists at Washington State University were curious to quantify this common human experience—in other words, to see if petting an animal produced any stress-relieving physiological benefits in humans. Researchers divided 249 college students into four groups. The first group was able to pet and play with a small group of cats and dogs for 10 minutes. The second group had to painfully just sit and watch their peers play with the animals. The third group watched a slideshow of animals; the fourth group was “waitlisted,” meaning they were told they would play with the animals in 10 minutes, but had to spend the wait time without their phones or other reading material. . . . more

Posting pet photos online could be more dangerous than you think

People can’t resist sharing photos of their beloved pets on social networks, but most probably don’t understand how dangerous such a simple—and seemingly harmless—act can be. A pet photo can provide fraudsters and identity thieves with very valuable information. What sensitive details could a criminal possibly glean from a pet photo, you ask? For starters, there’s the geolocation data that your smartphone embeds in the pictures you take by default. It’s a fairly simple task to sniff out GPS coordinates from exchangeable image file format data. Other information might be even easier to find—your physical address and phone number, for example, which owners frequently have emblazoned on their pets’ tags. What’s meant to reunite lost pets with their owners can easily be misused by someone with a modest amount of skill. . . . more

Tommy the tortoise, world’s oldest living pet, turns 121

A tortoise named Tommy has become the world’s oldest living pet after celebrating her 121st birthday this week—and boy, has she seen a thing or two. The endangered Hermann’s tortoise has been in the same British family since she was purchased for £1 in 1909, living through 21 US presidents, 6 different English monarchs, and two world wars. “She’s been through the family all these years and we all love her to bits,” said owner Sheila Floris. Tommy was born in 1898 and was purchased by Sheila’s grandmother when she was 11 years old. At that time, William McKinley was the US president and Queen Victoria was the monarch of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland. Floris, 62, has been caring for Tommy since she was 5, and said the beloved pet was mistaken for a boy until she began laying eggs. . . . more

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