People with milk allergies often turn to products like rice and soy milks. But now, in a twist, there is a new source of hypoallergenic milk in the offing: genetically-modified cows.
A pregnant tsetse fly
The tsetse fly’s claim to fame is spreading the parasite that causes sleeping sickness in Africa. This public health concern has overshadowed much weirder facts about the tsetse, like the fact it gives birth to live, crawling larva—one at a time. (Sound familiar to you, mammal?) They also make “milk” to feed those larvae in utero, which uses some of same enzymes as mammals, according to new study published in the journal Biology of Reproduction. In fact, the sleeping sickness parasite is not even the most interesting organism living inside tsetse flies; no, that distinction would below to a bacterium called Wigglesworthia, without which females are sterile.
It’s time to take a journey through tsetse fly reproduction.
Insects are generally negligent parents: a female lays dozens or hundreds of eggs and flies off, leaving the young to fend for themselves. Most will die but a few will survive to lay hundreds more eggs and keep playing the numbers game. Tsetse flies, not unlike mammals, have taken the opposite tack, investing a whole lot of energy in each offspring. She keeps her eggs and larvae in the safest place possible for the longest time: inside her uterus. That’s the evolutionary explanation for live birth.
China has dished out justice in the tainted milk case, and severe justice at that. The country has executed two men, Zhang Yujun and Geng Jinping, convicted in January of crimes connected to last summer’s powered milk and infant formula contamination incident, which killed six children and sickened about 300,000 people in total.
Zhang, a farmer, produced some 770 tonnes of the powder from July 2007 to August 2008 which was laced with an industrial chemical, melamine, used in the manufacture of plastics and fertiliser [The Telegraph]. Geng was convicted of selling the powder to dairy brokers. The Supreme Court reviewed the cases before the executions, now done with lethal injection, took place. Nineteen other people were convicted of crimes; three got life sentences.
Milk—it does a body good, and apparently it’s been doing so for longer than we thought. A new study led by Richard Evershed of the University of Bristol in England says that humans had discovered dairy products by the 6,000s B.C., two millennia earlier than scientists had previously believed.
Evershed and his team found milk residue in pottery dating back to 6,500 B.C., found in areas of Turkey and the Balkans. “Cattle, sheep and goats were familiar farm animals by the eighth millennium BC, but until now, the first clear evidence for milk use was the late fifth millennium,” says the team [The Telegraph].