The Pulse: Everyone loves animals, right?

     Dr. Cindy Otto, director of the Penn Vet Working Dog Center, helps train dogs, like McBaine, for life-saving careers. (Photo courtesy of John Donges/Penn Vet)

    Dr. Cindy Otto, director of the Penn Vet Working Dog Center, helps train dogs, like McBaine, for life-saving careers. (Photo courtesy of John Donges/Penn Vet)

    WHYY’s The Pulse celebrates its first birthday this week, in a celebration topped off by a live broadcast on Thursday. On Friday at noon, join a live Twitter chat with members of The Pulse taking your questions and comments on a year of stories about health, science and innovation. RSVP for the live event here. Join the Twitter chat at noon on Friday, Dec. 5, by using #PulseChat

    All week on NewsWorks, we’re taking a look back at the best of the first year of The Pulse. From cancer-detecting dogs to flesh-eating beetles, from a massive ancient dinosaur to the present-day comeback of the bald eagle, our stories on science and animals brought together two of our readers’ favorite things.

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    1. Can dogs play a role in detecting cancer?

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    Diabetic alert dogs work directly with people, and alert them when their blood sugar is too high or too low. The cancer detection dogs work in a laboratory, where they screen samples for the odor associated with ovarian cancer.


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    2. Philly scientists discover new gigantic dinosaur, ‘Dreadnoughtus’

    A Drexel-led team of scientists named a newly discovered dinosaur this year, a sauropod from southern Patagonia dubbed “Dreadnoughtus” for its massive size and invulnerability to attack.

    The 77-million-year-old skeleton, the most complete ever found for a dinosaur of its massive size, was unearthed in Argentina over four field seasons starting in 2005.

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    3. The role of flesh-eating beetles in forensics and bone research at Arcadia University

    In a tiny lab inside Boyer Hall, is a white, jam-packed freezer that’s full of dead, wild animals that’ll soon be lunch for the beetles. There are white rats, red-tailed hawks, a tarantula and lots of turtles.

    After being defrosted in warm water, the gutted specimens are tucked into Tupperware containers teeming with hundreds of beetles. It takes just days for a skeleton to emerge from fur and flesh.


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    4. Why do flamingos stand on one leg? A Hawk might have the answer

    “The big question that’s still out there,” said Anderson, “is why do most animals have lateral preference?  Why are most people right-handed?”

    In pursuing answers to that riddle, Anderson and his research team may have already solved one that has tormented flamingo watchers the world over.  Why the heck do they stand on one leg?  It may be that they are trying to stay warm.


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    5. From near extinction to internet sensation: the remarkable comeback of Pennsylvania’s bald eagles

    For decades, Pennsylvania’s bald eagles and those around the country had been on the brink of extinction, with pesticides and pollution nearly knocking the population out. But the majestic birds, native to North America, have made a comeback in recent years, even rising to internet stardom.

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