News Mash-up: Animal Research

Category : Science/Environment

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. gaze / geɪz / (n.) – a long and fixed look

    The interviewer’s gaze made me nervous.

  2. marsupial / mɑrˈsu pi əl / (n.) – a type of animal that carries its babies in a pouch or pocket of skin on the mother’s body

    Marsupials take care of their young in their pouches until the babies grow big.

  3. notion / ˈnoʊ ʃən / (n.) – a general understanding, opinion, or idea

    My notion of what psychologists do changed when I started my internship.

  4. spinal cord / ˈspaɪn l kɔrd / (n.) – the nerves inside the spine that send messages between the brain and the rest of the body

    The patient can no longer walk because her spinal cord was severely injured from the accident.

  5. irreparable / ɪˈrɛp ər ə bəl / (adj.) – too damaged or broken to repair

    The explosion did irreparable damage to the building. We’ll have to totally rebuild it.


Read the text below.

Kangaroos can communicate with us: scientists

Kangaroos can learn to communicate with humans in a similar way that domesticated dogs do, by using their gaze to “point” and ask for help, researchers said in a study published on Dec. 16.

The study involved 11 kangaroos that lived in captivity but had not been domesticated. Ten of the 11 marsupials intently gazed at researchers when they were unable to open a box with food, according to the report. Nine alternately looked at the human and at the container, as a way of pointing or gesturing toward the object.

The findings challenge the notion that only domesticated animals such as dogs, horses or goats communicate with humans. (Reuters)

Scientists help paralyzed mice to walk again

German researchers have enabled mice paralyzed after spinal cord injuries to walk again, re-establishing a neural link hitherto considered irreparable in mammals by using a designer protein injected into the brain.

Spinal cord injuries in humans, often caused by sports or traffic accidents, leave them paralyzed because not all of the nerve fibers that carry information between muscles and the brain are able to grow back.

But the researchers, from Ruhr University Bochum, managed to stimulate the paralyzed mice’s nerve cells to regenerate using a designer protein. The paralyzed rodents that received the treatment started walking after two to three weeks, the researchers said. (Reuters)

These articles were provided by The Japan Times Alpha.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • The kangaroo study challenges the notion that only domesticated animals such as dogs, horses, or goats communicate with humans, but it was only done with 11 kangaroos. Do you agree that more animals are actually able to communicate with humans? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • The study says that kangaroos can learn to communicate by using their gaze to “point” and ask for help. If animals could speak to humans using actual words, what do you think they’d say (ex. “give me a treat,” “set me free”)? Why? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • The German researchers were able to help mice walk again, repairing spinal cord injuries that were thought of as irreparable until now. Do you think that a lot of injuries or diseases currently considered irreparable or incurable will be able to be treated in the near future? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • For the spinal cord injury research, the scientists used mice. How do you feel about animals being used in research? Why? Discuss.
Category : Science/Environment