Not your typical science models


Cell has an article showcasing other animal model candidates beyond the typical C. elegansDrosophila, mice, etc. Really it is just a list of people using other models explaining why they use them, but it is pretty cool to learn about what they are doing. They list Thellungiella sp., axolotl, naked mole rats, lampreys (which look terrifying), honey bees, bats, mouse lemurs (with which Tony Movshon famously trolled all rodent vision scientists), turquoise killfish, and songbirds. Because I love bees, here is the bee explanation:

Honey bees (Apis mellifera) provide remarkable opportunities for understanding complex behavior, with systems of division
of labor, communication, decision making, and social aging/immunity. They teach us how social behaviors develop from solitary behavioral modules, with only minor ‘‘tweaking’’ of molecular networks. They help us unravel the fundamental properties of learning, memory, and symbolic language. They reveal the dynamics of collective decision making
and how social plasticity can change epigenetic brain programming or reverse brain aging. They show us the mechanistic basis of trans-generational immune priming in invertebrates, perhaps facilitating the first vaccines for insects.

These processes and more can be studied across the levels of biological complexity—from genes to societies and over multiple timescales—from action potential to evolutionary. As models in neuroscience and animal behavior, honey bees have batteries of established research tools for brain/behavioral patterns, sensory perception, and cognition. Genome sequence, molecular tools, and a number of functional genomic tools are also available. With a relatively large-sized body (1.5 cm) and brain (1 mm3), this fascinating animal is, additionally, easy to work with for students of all ages.

Beekeeping practices date as early as the Minoan Civilization, where the bee symbolized a Mother Goddess. Today, we increasingly value honey bees as essential pollinators of commercial crops and for their ecosystem services. Honey bees have been called keepers of the logic of life. They are truly.

I would add mosquitoes, ants, deer mice, (prairie/etc) voles, cuttlefish, jellyfish and of course marmosets to the list.