Category Archives: genetics

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an interesting new paper out on the genetic basis of eye loss in cave fish, reported in a manuscript in biorxiv (not yet peer reviewed) by Aniket Gore et al.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), […]

Sydney Brenner: A revolutionary biologist. New BBC radio programme

by Matthew Cobb Earlier this year I went to Singapore to record a series of interviews with Sydney Brenner, one of the greatest biologists of the 20th century. This was part of a Sydney Brenner Research Fellowship from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, which I was awarded to study how Brenner and Francis Crick collaborated. I […]

Jeremy, the lonely left-handed snail, finally mates—and then dies

On September 21 I put up a post about a rare left-handed mutant of the garden snail, Cornu aspersa, named Jeremy.  (That post explains why snails of only identical coiling can mate, due to their hermaphroditism and the position in which they copulate.)  Nearly all garden snails (and 90% of all snail species) have right-handed […]

A lovely graph that tells our story

by Matthew Cobb I came across this beautiful graph in an article in the journal Cell this week. It shows declining levels of genetic variability among 51 populations of humans across the planet, plotted against the distance of each population from East Africa: The data in the figure are from a 2008 paper in Science […]

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 Match.com 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 https://t.co/WIF7gygpws — Gil Wizen (@wizentrop) September 8, 2017 Which highlighted the picture below (I can’t read the Japanese; if you can, please translate). Look […]