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Category Archive: Genetics

Dec 03 2013

Higher order thinking

The one thing you must read today is David Dobbs’ Die, Selfish Gene, Die. It’s good to see genetic accommodation getting more attention, but I’m already seeing pushback from people who don’t quite get the concept, and think it’s some kind of Lamarckian heresy. It’s maybe a bit much to ask that the gene-centric view …

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Nov 22 2013

A rather remarkable deficiency

There’s a much ballyhooed article from Science going around that promotes the surprising conclusion that dogs were first domesticated in Europe. Dan Graur points out that there is one little problem with the data: The take home message of the Thalmann et al. paper is simple: Dogs were not domesticated in the Middle East or …

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Nov 12 2013

Remedial reading for big-time scienticians

I don’t understand how this happens. You’ve got a good academic position. You’re bringing in reasonable amounts of grant money. You’re publishing in Nature Genetics and Nature Structural and Molecular Biology. And you don’t even understand the basic concepts in your field of study. For instance, here’s a press release titled “Cause of genetic disorder …

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Oct 26 2013

How to make a funny-looking mouse

Attanasio-face-enhancers-9

I’m going to tell you about a paper that was brought to my attention by some poor science journalism, so first I have to complain about the article in the Guardian. Bear with me. This is dreadfully misleading. Though everybody’s face is unique, the actual differences are relatively subtle. What distinguishes us is the exact …

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Oct 12 2013

microRNAs and cancer

I’m trying to raise money for the The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, and I promised to do a few things if we reached certain goals. I said I’d write a post microRNAs and cancer if you raised $7500. And you did, so I did. I kept my clothes on this time, though, so here’s a …

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Oct 04 2013

This cat is going to be insufferable

(a) Orthologous gene clusters in mammalian species. The Venn diagram shows the number of unique and shared gene families among seven mammalian genomes. (b) Gene expansion or contraction in the tiger genome. Numbers designate the number of gene families that have expanded (green, +) and contracted (red, −) after the split from the common ancestor. The most recent common ancestor (MRCA) has 17,841 gene families. The time lines indicate divergence times among the species.

You may have heard we’ve got this satanic feline padding about the house now, getting into mischief — she has discovered my collection of cephalopodiana, and her favorite toy is one of my stuffed octopuses that she wrestles and bats around the floor. It’s like she’s rubbing it in. Anyway, a new paper in Nature …

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Aug 26 2013

Magic RNA editing!

old-wrecked-car-outback-australia-14466708

One of those wacky Intelligent Design creationists (Jonathan McLatchie, an arrogant ignoramus I’ve actually met in Scotland) has a theory, which is his, to get around that obnoxious problem of pseudogenes. Pseudogenes are relics, broken copies of genes that litter the genome, and when you’ve got a gang of ideologues who are morally committed to …

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Jul 11 2013

Short, sharp summary

Larry Moran has a simple list of the 5 basics you need to understand about junk DNA. It’s short and sweet; I’d like to see a creationist, who are often weirdly antagonistic to the whole idea of junk DNA, deal with these basic facts before they start ranting against the observations and conclusions. Genetic Load …

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Jul 02 2013

The MFAP Hypothesis for the origins of Homo sapiens

I know you’re thinking we’ve had more than enough discussion of one simplistic umbrella hypothesis for the origin of unique human traits — the aquatic ape hypothesis — and it’s cruel of me to introduce another, but who knows, maybe the proponents of each will collide and mutually annihilate each other, and then we’ll all …

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Jun 18 2013

Do the creationist shuffle and twist!

Don’t you hate it when you get up in the morning and the first thing you read on the internet is the news that your entire career has been a waste of time, your whole field of study has collapsed, and you’re going to have to rethink your entire future? Happens to me all the …

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