How We Evolve:
"A growing number of scientists argue that human culture itself has become the foremost agent of biological change, making us — for the past 10,000 years or so — the inadvertent architects of our own future selves." [more inside]
posted by homunculus
on Oct 9, 2008 -
"The quilts are visually pleasing, with their strong colors and seemingly traditional design, but they hide and reveal an entirely other construct of information." [via
posted by dhruva
on Sep 5, 2008 -
Want your genome on a hard drive but don't have the money? 23andMe
can give you almost that: a scan of your SNPs, presented online and complete with analyses derived from up-to-date medical research (and a few educated guesses). Eight months ago, blogs were rife with speculation of who 23 could be
and what the connection with Google
could mean. [more inside]
posted by artifarce
on Feb 3, 2008 -
Humans are evolving more rapidly
than in the distant past, according to a new study
published in PNAS. "The massive growth of human populations has led to far more genetic mutations, and every mutation that is advantageous to people has a chance of being selected and driven toward fixation. We are more different genetically from people living 5,000 years ago than they were different from Neanderthals
", says lead author John Hawks. [more inside]
posted by stbalbach
on Dec 10, 2007 -
Devil facial tumor disease
has ravaged the population of Tasmanian Devils in the last decade. DFTD is a transmissible cancer
, i.e. the tumor cells themselves (which differ genetically from their host animal) are the agent responsible. The disease is spread by biting and other contact, and the resulting grotesque tumors interfere with feeding and lead to starvation. Poor immune response
may be partially responsible. This is actually not the only such disease: canine transmissible venereal tumor is an analogue
that has been known to be contagious since the 19th century. (CTVT, however, gets a proper immune response.) [more inside]
posted by parudox
on Oct 29, 2007 -
The Etruscan civilization flourished in central Italy around the 6th century BC before the rise of the Roman Empire. Known for high art and high living, some say the Etruscans were influential in molding Roman and western civilization, however it has always been an enigma on where the Etruscans originally came from. DNA evidence
has probably solved the mystery
, confirming what Greek historian Herodotus first said over 2,500 years ago.
posted by stbalbach
on Jun 24, 2007 -
Are you a Highly Sensitive Person?
This trait ... is inherited by 15 to 20% of the population, and ... seems to be present in all higher animals. Being an HSP means your nervous system is more sensitive to subtleties. Your sight, hearing, and sense of smell are not necessarily keener .... But your brain processes information and reflects on it more deeply. Being an HSP also means, necessarily, that you are more easily overstimulated, stressed out, overwhelmed. This trait ... has been mislabeled as shyness (not an inherited trait), introversion (30% of HSPs are actually extraverts), inhibitedness, fearfulness, and the like. HSPs can be these, but none of these are the fundamental trait they have inherited ...
| latest research
(fascinating!) | newsletter
posted by grumblebee
on Apr 8, 2007 -
...Historians teach that they are mostly descended from different peoples: the Irish from the Celts and the English from the Anglo-Saxons who invaded from northern Europe and drove the Celts to the country’s western and northern fringes. But geneticists who have tested DNA throughout the British Isles are edging toward a different conclusion. Many are struck by the overall genetic similarities, leading some to claim that both Britain and Ireland have been inhabited for thousands of years by a single people that have remained in the majority, with only minor additions from later invaders like Celts, Romans, Angles, Saxons, Vikings and Normans. The implication that the Irish, English, Scottish and Welsh have a great deal in common with each other, at least from the geneticist’s point of view, seems likely to please no one.A United Kingdom? Maybe
See also Myths of British ancestry
In the words of one well known Basque cultural icon
: HA Ha!
posted by y2karl
on Mar 9, 2007 -
Study turns human genetics on its head.
"The genome is like an accordion that can stretch or shrink . . . so you have no idea what's normal. We have to think of genetics in an entirely different way. We're actually more like a patchwork of genetic code than bar codes that line up evenly. Everything we've been taught is different now."
posted by ZenMasterThis
on Nov 23, 2006 -
New research from evolutionary scientist Bruce Lahn suggests that humans and the now extinct
Neanderthal species mixed, and humans snatched up a valuable brain gene in the process. (The gene, MCPH1, and Lahn, discussed last year
on MeFi) This comes on the tails of yet another new study providing morphological evidence
that there was nontrivial interbreeding between humans and Neanderthals in Eurasia, despite the fact that Neanderthals may have been genetically closer to chimps
than humans. Contrary to popular imagination, though, the Neanderthal species had bigger brains and sophisticated intellects
, at least roughly on par with that of human beings. The gene regulates brain size during development, but its exact utility to humans is still unknown (and controversial
). The origin of this gene and the question of Neanderthal mixing will soon be answered more definitively by the, just launched, 2 year project to map the Neanderthal genome
, headed by Svante Pääbo (profiled in recent Smithsonian
articles). Pääbo calls
Lahn’s study "the most compelling case to date for a genetic contribution of Neandertals to modern humans."
posted by Jason Malloy
on Nov 8, 2006 -
The Allen Institute for Brain Science
has made the Allen Brain Atlas available online
for public searches. It contains maps of gene expressions in a mouse brain, searchable by gene, anatomy, or with boolean syntax. They also offer Brain Explorer, a 3-D program that lets you highlight particular genes, and rotate the model in any direction. Via
posted by owhydididoit
on Oct 20, 2006 -
The United Celtic Kingdom.
A new study shows that most British are decended from the Celtic tribes that crossed over from Spain 7,000 years ago. Only 20% of the English are decended from Viking stock, even fewer are Anglo-Saxons.
posted by empath
on Sep 21, 2006 -
Poor old Abe.
He had an impressive medical history
, as previously discussed
. Will we ever figure out all his ailments? As an explanation for "his especially clumsy gait," one theory claims that he had Marfan's Syndrome
(with good company
). But now researchers are leaning more toward a new theory, that a gene-linked disorder called ataxia
. But Lincoln also suffered from depression which could have been heriditary
, for which he took "little blue pills"
that gave him mercury poisoning, which could explain his insomnia, tremors and rage attacks, gait, and more
. Of course, we also suspect
that he was in the closet
. Lincoln's DNA
will continue to be a growth industry, at least until somebody can get hold of a sample of the old guy and figure him out for sure.
posted by beagle
on Jan 29, 2006 -
Some 25 million years ago, humans and vervet monkeys diverged
from a common ancestor. In very rough terms, perhaps one and a quarter million human generations, or five million vervet generations, have been brought forth upon the Earth since that common ancestor lived. Of course, many differences have evolved between humans and vervets in those 25 million years: among other things, human parents choose toys for their children; vervet parents do not.
But after all that time and genetic change, and despite studies attributing
human children's toy preferences to adult stereotypes
, a new study
by Dr. Gerianne Alexander
finds that vervet males, like human boys, prefer toy trucks and balls, while vervet females and human girls prefer dolls and toy cooking pots.
What's more, the vervets play with the toys much as human children do: males roll trucks on the ground, females inspect dolls (apparently) for genitalia
. Previously on MetaFilter: Pinker vs. Spelke, Gender and Brain morphology, Harvard president Larry Summers and his daughter's "baby truck".
posted by orthogonality
on Dec 8, 2005 -