Category Archives: genetics

Scientists spot their first albino panda

I couldn’t resist adding this tweet, which just arrived from Matthew, to the morning’s selection. With its pink eyes, this panda looks like a true albino, and I hope it will be okay. (They have no predators as adults, so its conspicuous color isn’t a detriment, and all they have to do is find bamboo.) […]

Adam Rutherford calls the Jack the Ripper identification “a joke”

This morning I reported on a genetic analysis of the identity of Jack the Ripper, arrived at by analyzing DNA from sperm and bloodstains on a shawl found at one of the murder sites. I didn’t think much of the paper, but Adam Rutherford, a respected geneticist and author, thinks even less. In fact, he […]

Jack the Ripper identified?

UPDATE: Go here to see a post from later on this day, detailing Adam Rutherford’s objection to this paper, which he calls a “joke” because of the possibility of contamination, the lack of provenance of the shawl, the sloppy calculations, and the weak genetic evidence. _____________   The paper below is getting a lot of […]

The evolution of “irreducibly complex” antifreeze proteins in a polar fish (and a fish-slap at Behe)

A new paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows how a functional protein (an antifreeze protein in the blood of an Arctic fish) can be assembled out of scraps of genome that have no function at all. Moreover, the protein doesn’t become functional—e.g., being secreted into the fish blood to keep it […]

Scientists scrutinize just two examples in Behe’s new book; find them deeply misleading

Here’s a post by biologists Nathan Lents and Arthur Hunt (Hunt’s name isn’t under the title), examining just two cases touted by Michael Behe as showing “de-evolution” in Behe’s new ID book Darwin Devolves: The New Science about DNA That Challenges Evolution. The cases involve the loss of fur pigment and changes in fat metabolism in polar bears, […]

At last: a fruit host of wild Drosophila melanogaster

We’ve probably learned more about genetics from the fruit fly Drosophila melanogaster than from any other organism, and now we’re using the species to learn about development and gene expression.  I used the species, and several of its relatives in its 9-species subgroup, to study speciation, for the generation time is short (about 12 days at […]

What were the first animals?

by Matthew Cobb I’ve just finished making a BBC World Service radio programme about the first animals. Anyone, anywhere in the world, can listen to it (it’s only 28 minutes long!) – you just have to register with the BBC (free, rapid and cost- and spam-free). Click on the pic to go to the BBC […]

The Left eats its own: The New Yorker criticizes Elizabeth Warren for checking her ancestry, asserts that idea of biological differences among people is “pernicious”

The more I read the New Yorker, the more I realize two things. First, it’s rapidly become a sophisticated version of HuffPo, a liberal magazine marinated in Authoritarian Leftism. That became palpably clear when the editor, David Remnick, who was scheduled to interview Steve Bannon onstage at this month’s New Yorker Festival, disinvited Bannon. (Several […]

Elizabeth Warren is “native American”—or is she?

Well, she has at least one Native American ancestor some ways back. But I wouldn’t exactly say that makes her a “Native American”—any more than nearly all American blacks are “white” because most of them have at least some white ancestors. I believe the average African-American has 20% of their genes from whites.) At this […]

RadioLab distorts some science

There’s been a lot of publicity about David Quammen’s new book, The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life, which tells the story of the discovery of a new domain of life, the Archaea, the discovery that chloroplasts and mitochondria are the remnants of anciently absorbed microbes, and, most novel, the recent discovery of […]