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Immortal dogs and contagious cancers

All dogs may go to heaven, but there's at least one who's apparently stuck in limbo, long gone as an individual animal but living on in an extremely unlikely form. According to one of the most bizarre science articles I've ever read, a particular kind of cancer found in dogs is (a) contagious and (b) descended from an "Eve," probably a wolf or an ancient Asian breed like the noble Tibetan mastiff above. Every cancer cell found in dogs with Sticker's sarcoma can be traced back to that one individual animal, who died several centuries ago -- but not before passing his cancer cells on to another dog, probably in the act of mating. Note that we're not talking about the transmission of a virus that causes cancer, like HPV -- the tumor cells themselves got out of their original host and into a new one.

What is this thing? Is it a medieval Chinese dog that has found immortality? If so, then it resembles HeLa cells, a line of cancer cells isolated from a woman named Henrietta Lacks who died in 1951. After her death, scientists have propagated her cells.... One biologist suggested that the cells should be considered a new species.

tasmanian_devil.jpgDo hamsters and Tasmanian devils also get this kind of contagious cancer? And why, for that matter, aren't tumors contagious in humans? Did our ancestors spend millions of years warding off "cancer parasites," and is that why our immune systems are so robust today? There's lots more equally fascinating stuff in the article; I can't recommend it enough.

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The Origins of 36 Marvel Characters, Illustrated
Pop Chart Lab
Pop Chart Lab

No matter what their powers, every super hero has an origin story, from Spider-Man’s radioactive bite to Iron Man’s life-threatening chest shrapnel. In their latest poster, the designers at Pop Chart Lab have taken their infographic savvy to the Marvel Universe, charting the heroic origins of 36 different Marvel characters through miniature, minimalist comics.

Without using any words, they’ve managed to illustrate Bucky Barnes's plane explosion and subsequent transformation into the Winter Soldier, Jessica Jones’s car crash, the death of the Punisher’s family, and other classic stories from the major Marvel canon while paying tribute to the comic book form.

Explore the poster below, and see a zoomable version on Pop Chart Lab’s website.

A poster featuring 36 minimalist illustrations of superhero origin stories.
Pop Chart Lab

Keep your eyes open for future Marvel-Pop Chart crossovers. The Marvel Origins: A Sequential Compendium poster is “the first release of what we hope to be a marvelous partnership,” as Pop Chart Lab’s Galvin Chow puts it. Prints are available for pre-order starting at $37 and are scheduled to start shipping on March 8.

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