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 -
Not settled after all
partial genetic explaination of eye color. it's not one classic dominant/recessive allele a la the monk Mendel. three known + unknown genes involved, everybody's still beautiful.
posted by longsleeves
on Dec 8, 2005 -
Genes Reveal Recent Human Brain Evolution.
Two important new papers
in the journal Science
) from the evolutionary geneticist and rising star, Bruce T. Lahn (see this
recent profile from The Scientist
), are potentially the tips of some very large icebergs. The papers document how two genes related to brain properties that underwent strong selection during the course of hominid evolution, have continued
undergoing strong selection since the emergence of anatomically modern man. The papers wonderfully illustrate how biological evolution is an ongoing process
as well as the artificial distinction
between “micro” and “macro” evolution, and promise to be controversial for two reasons: First, the brain genes underwent the strongest selection during two periods
of cultural and technological efflorescence (roughly 37,000 and 5,800 years ago). Second, the genes are distributed very differently in modern human population groups, existing at very high frequencies in some groups and being very rare in others, ensuring that the modern function of these genes will be a source of more research and much impassioned debate. More observations
from anthropologist John Hawks.
posted by Jason Malloy
on Sep 8, 2005 -
The Nature of Normal Human Variety
A talk with Dr. Armand Leroi
"Almost uniquely among modern scientific problems [the problem of normal human variety] is a problem that we can apprehend as we walk down the street. We live in an age now where the deepest scientific problems are buried away from our immediate perception. They concern the origin of the universe. They concern the relationships of subatomic particles. They concern the nature and structure of the human genome. Nobody can see these things without large bits of expensive equipment. But when I consider the problem of human variety I feel as Aristotle must have felt when he first walked down to the shore at Lesvos for the first time. The world is new again." (via Arts & Letters Daily)
posted by Kattullus
on Mar 29, 2005 -
If your European ancestors survived the Bubonic Plague
700 years ago, they very likely may have also passed on to you a mutation of the CCR5 gene -- called delta 32
. This may not sound exciting, but delta 32 is a powerful mistake. HIV, the virus that causes AIDS, attacks the human immune system, infecting the white blood cells sent to destroy it. The delta 32 mutation, however, effectively blocks the crucial gateway into human cells the virus needs. In fact, possessing delta 32 could save your life, and the lives of your children.
posted by lola
on Mar 8, 2005 -
Genes and Jews.
And you thought Spock
came up with that part of the shtick. It turns out that despite the racial and ethnic diversity of the Tribe, there are genetic markers that identify Cohanim, or the priestly descendants of Aaron (know any Cohens?). These markers help identify jewish identity in the most distant reaches of the diaspora.
The fascinating intersection of anthropology, genetics, and religion.
(btw first fpp)
posted by Kifer85
on Feb 14, 2005 -
Come out, experts from the woodworks!
Neu5Ac and Neu5Gc are sugars found on cells present in nearly every mammal, from chimps to pigs. When scientists altered the genes of mice so that they couldn't produce them, the mice died. However, unlike our closest relatives, humans lack a gene that makes Neu5Gc. The gene is not gone, but rendered silent by a fatal mutation, one that occured approximately 500,000 ago. Now, note that it is illegal to produce any new embryonic stem cell lines. Any scientist will tell you that extant and legal human stem cell lines have been existing in calf serum and often on layers of mouse "feeder" cells for growth. As such, they are immersed in a bath of antigen and if re-introdcued would elicit a strong immune response. I.e. although of human origin, they would be treated as foreign cells if injected. It is likely they would be rejected if injected with today's techniques anyway, but this may represent another significant hurdle for research, one that could be sidestepped with more progressive policy. (Via The Regular
posted by willns
on Jan 24, 2005 -
Singaporean scientists genetically modify zebra fish to detect water pollutants by turning fluorescent
. An American company realizes there's a consumer market for novelty glow-in-the-dark fish, and starts selling the US's first genetically modified pet
. While the FDA, which oversees GM animals, 'finds no reason to regulate'
, California's Fish and Game Commission bans sales in the state over ethical concenrns
, and a coalition of watchdog groups files suit to support a national ban
A year later, GloFish are still on sale, and California's reconsidering its sales block
. With the first GM pet quietly swimming into homes, and others (like hypo-allergenic cats
) close behind, are we ready for a designer pet invasion?
posted by thomascrown
on Dec 20, 2004 -
Predicting who'll benefit from anti-depressants
From the study's abstract: "There are well-replicated, independent lines of evidence supporting a role for corticotropin-releasing hormone (CRH) in the pathophysiology of depression." The NY Times has a bit more readable explanation
(reg-free link) of a recent investigation of into whether there is a genetic explanation for why some people get more from their drugs than others.
posted by billsaysthis
on Dec 18, 2004 -
Extinct is forever
. Or is it?
Scientists are hard at work reconstructing entire genomes of our common ancestors. The present technology is a far cry from Jurassic Park, but we're getting there.
posted by mowglisambo
on Dec 8, 2004 -
The Dawkins FAQ.
Interesting Q&A session about evolution, biology, genes, etc with an expert
. Dawkins claims no final answer on the "gay gene" or a Darwinian explanation of homosexuality.
posted by skallas
on Nov 27, 2004 -
or: Partnership status and the human sex ratio at birth: a paper by Karen Norberg
Could the sex of a child be influenced by the status of the parents' relationship at the time of conception? In a sample of 86,436 births in the United States, we find a small excess of sons among births to parents who were married or living with an opposite sex partner before the child's conception, compared to births to parents who were not. This is the first evidence that household arrangements can affect the human sex ratio at birth, and could explain the fall in the proportion of male births in some developed countries over the past thirty years.
(Data published on FirstCite
via The Economist
(special note for mathowie: No word yet as to whether or not those single moms can also reliably produce offspring with an astigmatism.)
posted by lilboo
on Oct 27, 2004 -
In terms of our genes
, we humans are all the same -- except
for the ways in which we're different. Pharmacogenomics has for years been touted as the ultimate benefit of the genomics revolution. But to many, this revolution has a troubling side.
posted by semmi
on Oct 13, 2004 -
Sure... the liger
has been getting all the cross-species press lately (with the jackalope
getting a close second), but what about the growing menace of the cabbit
posted by ph00dz
on Aug 25, 2004 -
Monsanto Wins Fight to Control Plant
The Canadian Supreme court sets international precedent by ruling that since Monsanto holds a patent on a gene, it can control the use of the plant.
So does this mean that in the future that an engineered human gene could be patented, and therefore if you receive this gene you will have to make royalty payments? And if you renege on paying can they repo the gene?
posted by batboy
on May 21, 2004 -
not so junk DNA
the idea has always made me uncomfortable. now scientists are taking a closer look at base-pair sequences that have been generally overlooked till now.
posted by jessica
on May 12, 2004 -
offers up this explanation of their cloning procedures.
Since Dolly, several scientists have cloned other animals, including cows and mice. Now, at Godsend, we have pioneered a technique that allows a cell nucleus from a recently deceased child to be implanted within a human egg, allowing a mother to carry that child to term again.
posted by sciatica
on Apr 15, 2004 -
Making the Mind.
"The general outlines of how genes build the brain are finally becoming clear, and we are also starting to see how, in forming the brain, genes make room for the environment’s essential role. While vast amounts of work remain to be done, it is becoming equally clear that understanding the coordination of nature and nurture will require letting go of some long-held beliefs."
posted by homunculus
on Jan 17, 2004 -
A new brand of incest.
"You're 40, happily married - and then you meet your long-lost brother and fall passionately in love. This isn't fiction; in the age of the sperm donor, it's a growing reality: 50% of reunions between siblings, or parents and offspring, separated at birth result in obsessive emotions. Last month, a former police officer was convicted of incest with his half-sister - but should we criminalise a bond hardwired into our psychology?"
posted by Hildegarde
on Jan 12, 2004 -