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Category Archive: evolution

Mar 11 2013

Paleofantasy: When people act like cavemen because they misunderstand evolution

I’ve been waiting so long for someone to write this book. Salon has a great interview with Marlene Zuk, evolutionary biologist who just wrote “Paleofantasy: What evolution really tells us about sex, diet, and how we live.” The Paleo diet? How evolution surprisingly supports 1950s gender roles? Yeah, those ideas aren’t actually supported by evolution …

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Feb 12 2013

Happy Darwin Day!

It’s my annual excuse to post my favorite Darwin related image: Unfortunately I don’t have time to write up a substantial Darwin-themed post… ironically because I’ve been working on a group presentation for my Philosophy of the Genome class on the eclipse of Darwinism and the following modern evolutionary synthesis. Are any of you taking …

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Feb 04 2013

Pokébiology 101: “Evolution” and the enigma of Eevee

BulbasaurEvolution

(Click here for the introductory post to Pokébiology 101) You know I had to start my Pokébiology 101 series with the most famously scientifically inaccurate part of Pokémon: evolution. In the Pokémon world, “evolution” means something different from what you might have learned in your biology classes. …Well, what you should have learned in your biology …

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Aug 09 2012

What if our family tree was still around?

Sometimes I wonder what our world would be like if our evolutionary relatives were still around. How would things be different with intelligent cousins like Neanderthals in the mix? Would we just be perpetually trying to kill them off, since that’s probably what helped them originally go extinct? Would there be nations of Neanderthals or …

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Jun 16 2012

My research part 4: How did microRNA convergently evolve?

miRNAbiogenesis

How could microRNA have evolved to have such similar structure and function in plants and animals after evolving independently? You must be thinking, “What are the odds?!” If evolution boiled down to nothing but random chance, the odds seem staggering indeed. No, I’m not about to say God guided evolution. What happens is there are certain traits …

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Jun 16 2012

My research part 3: MicroRNA in plants

Since my research focuses on primates, I don’t exactly work with plant microRNAs. But they’re still fascinating enough that I wanted to touch on them. Plant and animal microRNAs are very similar – they’re approximately 22 nucleotides in length, they’re processed from larger hairpin structures, and they function by downregulating messenger RNA. But they have …

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Jun 16 2012

My research part 2: MicroRNA evolution

Like I said previously, microRNA is typically highly conserved (have the same sequence) across animals because it’s involved in such important biological processes. But some microRNA isn’t conserved, which makes it particularly interesting. Is it not conserved because it just doesn’t have an important function? Is it not conserved because the divergent microRNA confers a …

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Jun 05 2012

You’re invited: Genomics of Non-model Organisms

I’m on the student/postdoc-lead organizing committee for the following symposium. If the topic sounds appealing and you’re near Seattle, come check it out! As a warning, the talks won’t be tailored for a totally layman audience, but if you have some biology background or just passionate interest, it should be really great! 2012 Genome Training …

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May 03 2012

Apples – you can’t explain that!

apple1

More tweets I get from Christians: I replied with this link. Next someone’s going to try to make the argument that bananas were designed by God to perfectly fit in our hands! Ha! …Oh wait.

Apr 19 2012

Dear E. O. Wilson: Please retire or stick to ants

Tonight I went to a talk at Seattle Town Hall by E. O. Wilson, one of the most famous evolutionary biologists still alive today. I admit I went for two different reasons. One, Wilson is super famous and also very old, and I wanted a chance to see him speak because another chance might not …

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