Rats live in close proximity to humans and eat human food scraps, which means the chemical composition of rat bone remains can reveal clues about humans 2,000 years ago. (Photo credit: Flickr Creative Commons/Airwolf)

By Jacob Williamson-Rea

Our weekly round-up compiles stories and news, both from here at Penn and around the world, that highlight the intersection of animal, environmental, and human health.

Rat bones reveal how humans transformed their island environments
Smithsonian, June 6, 2018
Rats are a commensal species, which means they’re not domesticated and they’re not quite wild, but they rely on human scraps of food. Recently discovered rat remains in the Polynesian islands reveal important clues about the diet of the humans who lived there and the environment 2,000 years ago.

Global organizations join forces to address One Health issues
American Veterinarian, May 31, 2018
The World Health Organization, the World Organisation for Animal Health, and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations have teamed up to tackle One Health-related issues.

Predicting future zoonotic disease outbreaks
The Scientist, June 1, 2018
Three out of four new or emerging infectious diseases spread from animals to humans. Scientists from various disciplines are working to understand why, where, when, and how this happens.

Toxic toads could devastate Madagascar’s biodiversity
Science, June 4, 2018
The Asian common toad’s slime contains enough toxicity to kill any species that tries to eat it. These new findings confirm that scientists rightly sounded the warning bells when the reptile first appeared in Madagascar in 2014.

New technology helps fishermen and conservationists both win
Earth.com, June 5, 2018
A new tool developed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and San Diego State University provides fishermen with electronic maps of fishing zones that contain desired fish, as well as those that contain protected species.

Dogs carry a surprising variety of flu viruses
Science News, June 5, 2018
A recent study discovered that dogs in China might cause the next pandemic due to their ability to pass various flu viruses to people.

Williamson-Rea is a junior science writer in the University of Pennsylvania’s Office of Communications. He is also an MA candidate in Science/Medical Writing at Johns Hopkins University.