Category Archives: genetics

The Daily Beast distorts epigenetics with bogus claims that children can “inherit memories of the Holocaust”

I’ve written extensively on this site about recent claims that environmental modifications of DNA, through either methylation (sticking a -CH3 group onto DNA bases or by changing the histone scaffolding that supports the DNA, can constitute a basis for evolutionary change. This claim is simply wrong. To date, while we can show that environmental “shocks” given […]

A loveless left-handed snail can’t find a mate

Is there a for gastropods? Because if there is, “Jeremy,” a rare left-handed variant of what the Torygraph says is a garden snail (Cornu aspersa) needs to put up his profile pronto: Left-handed garden snail seeks mate for companionable dinners (no garlic butter!), long crawls on the beach, and, above all, mating. No right-handed […]

Now they want to demonize Francis Crick

The Statue-Removing Squad has finally jumped the shark. I can sympathize—and even agree—with people’s desire to remove statues honoring the Confederacy, though I quail a bit at taking down statues of Robert E. Lee, who did fight for the Union before secession. But now, it seems, everyone from the past who uttered an offensive remark, […]

Happy 60th birthday, central dogma!

JAC Intro: Today is precisely 60 years after Francis Crick, more of a genius than you realize, gave a famous lecture in London laying out what’s been called the “Central Dogma” of biology—about how information gets from genes to proteins via RNA intermediates. I asked Matthew, who wrote a very nice book  about the history […]

Beautiful white giraffe and white calf

Since both mom and calf are white, and the chance she mated with another white giraffe are low, this is probably a dominant form of whiteness. It’s not albinism, which is recessive, nor do the animals have the pink eyes of albinos. It could be leucism, which stops the migration of pigment-containing cells into the […]

Saturday genetics lesson: A gynandromorph stag beetle

Matthew sent this tw**t by entomologist Gil Wizen: One of the most amazing bilateral gynandromorphs I have ever seen, a Dorcus stag beetle. Right – male side; Left – female side — Gil Wizen (@wizentrop) September 8, 2017 Which highlighted the picture below (I can’t read the Japanese; if you can, please translate). Look […]

Carl Zimmer: Science journalism in the Age of Trump

After Trump’s election, when we began to wonder what an authoritarian regime could do to science, my first thought was the story of Trofim Denisovich Lysenko—a tale known to all geneticists. Born to a peasant family in 1898, Lysenko eventually became an agronomist and, in 1928, reported a series of experiments in which he claimed […]

More on biology and race

by Greg Mayer Jerry posted yesterday on an article at Quillette by Bo Winegard, Ben Winegard and Brian Boutwell on biology and race, commending it for its sensibleness. I thought I’d chime in with my own thoughts. Jerry’s a population geneticist and I’m a herpetologist, but our views turn out to be quite similar. So, […]

A sensible article on human “race”

As a biologist, it irks me when ideologues distort biology in the service of politics. My view, which I absorbed from Steven Pinker, is that we should be able to accept scientific facts without perforce turning those facts into government policy.  After all, since morality is subjective and not objective, facts can never by themselves […]

The Onion on the pros and cons of gene editing

A while back I reviewed Doudna and Sternberg’s new book, A Crack in Creation, for the Washington Post (it’s a pretty good book), pointing out the revolution in gene therapy about to occur with the development of the CRISPR/Cas-9 system, which pretty much lets experimenters change DNA in any way they want, including editing out […]