Category Archives: genetics

Geneticist David Reich responds to critics of his views on race

On March 23, I called your attention to paleoanthropologist David Reich’s op-ed in the New York Times, “How genetics is changing our understanding of ‘race’.” I thought the article was quite good, one of the few articles that takes a pretty objective and open-minded stand on “race”. It noted that conventionally named races are social […]

David Barash urges scientists to make human-chimp hybrids

Well, this is about as bad an idea I can imagine coming from a biologist, and its justification is equally poor.  The idea is to make human/chimp hybrids (“humanzees”), in the hope that their existence will convince people that Homo sapiens is not a separate, created entity, but is part of an evolutionary continuum not […]

A human chimera

Reader Tom Alves called my attention to the singer Taylor Muhl, a human chimera. Chimerism is the situation in which an individual results from the fusion of two early-stage fertilized eggs (zygotes), and thus has the genetic constitution of two separate individuals. This is a very rare condition: geneticists estimate that there are fewer than […]

BBC 4 broadcast on Rosalind Franklin

Reader Kevin called my attention to this BBC4 show on Rosalind Franklin. It won’t be available long, I think, so listen to the 43-minute program soon (click on the screenshot to go there). Besides moderator Melvyn Bragg, the participants include Patricia Fara  (physics, University of Cambridge), Jim Naismith (structural biology, University of Oxford) and Judith Howard […]

Mutant creatures of the air

From Matthew we get a tweet of an albino bat. It sure sticks out from the other bats, and I hope it will be okay. A rare and incredible find today. An albino cave myotis (Myotis velifer). A little white jewel standing out in the crowd. #Albinism #bats @BatConIntl pic.twitter.com/bEvIUis1ow — Winifred Frick (@FrickWinifred) February […]

A “parthenogenetic” crayfish reproduces without sex: is it a new species?

There must have been more than a dozen readers who sent me links to the article below by Carl Zimmer in the New York Times (thanks, all!). I skimmed it but was more interested in the published scientific papers about the marbled crayfish. This “species”, if you can call it that (see more below), is […]

More on my ancestry: Is my name really Irish? Were my ancestors gentiles? Is my genome kosher?

Today will be a bit solipsistic; so be it. Yesterday, after I posted a picture of my dad that I’d never seen before, some kind readers went into ancestry.com and retrieved more information about the Coyne genealogy, most of which was new to me. I’m not going to bore you with all the details, but […]

Hybrid speciation in Amazonian manakins?

Rather than give a long introduction to hybrid speciation, I refer you to a recent post I did on diploid hybrid speciation in the Galápagos finches; just have a look at the introduction, which talks about the commonness of hybrid speciation in plants (via polyploidy) and its rarity in animals.  The Galápagos finches may be […]

Svante Pääbo on human evolution – a must-watch lecture

by Matthew Cobb Last week (20-22 November) there was a paleogenomics jamboree at the Wellcome Genome Campus in Cambridge (the real one, in the UK).  At the meeting, entitled “Human Evolution: Fossils, Ancient and Modern Genomes”, the great and the good of the ancient DNA and human evolution worlds got together to discuss the latest […]

More dumb claims that environmental epigenetics will completely revise our view of evolution

There’s an interesting new paper out on the genetic basis of eye loss in cave fish, reported in a manuscript in biorxiv (not yet peer reviewed) by Aniket Gore et al. (reference and free download at bottom. ) It’s also summarized by New Scientist in the online article below (click on screenshot to go to article), […]