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Neanderthal-Human Babies

Any admixture would have to be driven by male Neanderthals. Two years ago we discussed morphological evidence of nontrivial interbreeding. Since then Neanderthal DNA has been examined for genetic support for this model of human evolution, largely contradicting the belief in Neanderthal contribution to modern humanity. Indeed any contribution from the Neanderthal gene pool to the evolution of modern humans might be very rare and indeed it appears that the best candidate gene thus (MC1R) far likely was a result of convergent evolution. [more inside]
posted by wantwit on Mar 20, 2008 - 19 comments

Regrowing Limbs

Can People Regenerate Body Parts? "Progress on the road to regenerating major body parts, salamander-style, could transform the treatment of amputations and major wounds."
posted by homunculus on Mar 18, 2008 - 37 comments

Brok en Pip e l ine

An unprecedented five consecutive years of stagnant funding for the National Institutes of Health is putting America at risk - a few prominent research institutions get together to voice their concern over flat funding of the National Institutes of Health over the past 5 years, in their report The Broken Pipeline (pdf). Bloggers comment [1, 2, 3].
posted by Gyan on Mar 14, 2008 - 40 comments

Who thought cancer could be so beautiful

The Wellcome Image Awards. Gallery. How they were made. From the Welcome Collection (previously)
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Mar 11, 2008 - 2 comments

Watching Paint Dry

Prof Lakshminarayanan Mahadevan looks at the physics of wrinkles, creases and folds - from the small to the very large (video demos), feeds his venus flytrap, then rides on his magic carpet.
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Mar 5, 2008 - 3 comments

Another day, another Ankylosaur

Tetrapod Zoology just celebrated Ankylosaur Week. Days 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, and 1.
posted by mediareport on Feb 25, 2008 - 11 comments

DIY Biotech

Worried about the state of biodiversity? Why not make some of your own? Moore’s law is all over biotechnology right now. Can the hackers be far behind? MIT's Drew Endy doesn’t think so. Ready to get started? You might already have some of the tools that you will need. Plans for others are available on the web. All you need now are some parts.
posted by Kid Charlemagne on Feb 11, 2008 - 12 comments

New peer-reviewed Creationist Research Journal

Answers Research Journal is a new "professional peer-reviewed technical journal for the publication of interdisciplinary scientific and other relevant research from the perspective of the recent Creation and the global Flood within a biblical framework." Current Volume. Call for Papers.
posted by Rumple on Feb 2, 2008 - 32 comments

The Immortal Species

While the dream of immortality might be as old as mankind, the jellyfish Turritopsis nutricula (image) seems to be living it:
The hydrozoan Turritopsis nutricula has evolved a remarkable variation on this theme, and in so doing appears to have achieved immortality. The solitary medusa of this species can revert to its polyp stage after becoming sexually mature (Bavestrello et al., 1992; Piraino et al., 1996). In the laboratory, 100% of these medusae regularly undergo this change. Thus, it is possible that organismic death does not occur in this species!
An in-depth research paper.
posted by Foci for Analysis on Jan 30, 2008 - 48 comments

I soon found myself observing when plants first blossomed and leafed

Thoreau was into it. Scientists are using it to understand climate change. When Project Budburst starts again on Febraury 15th, you can participate, too. [more inside]
posted by Tehanu on Jan 27, 2008 - 15 comments

A Genetic Basis for 'Race'

'Race' graphically illustrated - "most Europeans" vs. Ashkenazim (previously; see also IQ & Gladwell, viz. ;) [more inside]
posted by kliuless on Jan 23, 2008 - 101 comments

Children's Hospital Boston

Interactive Features at the Children's Hospital Boston's Website. [Via Mind Hacks.]
posted by homunculus on Dec 17, 2007 - 4 comments

Cephalopods Galore

Like squid? What about the good ol' octopus? The cuttlefish and nautilus? If you answered yes to these questions Dr. James B. Wood's Cephalopod Page is your go-to site, with information on and pictures of 25+ species of cephalopods including the aptly named (I'm sure) vampire squid from hell. The site also hosts many articles. Not sure where you stand on the coolness of cephalopods? Why don't you start by watching this video of an octopus squeezing through a one inch hole (previously on MetaFilter).
posted by Kattullus on Dec 2, 2007 - 25 comments

Why are evolutionary biologists bringing back extinct deadly viruses?

Darwin's Surprise. "There may be no biological process more complicated than the relationships that viruses have with their hosts. Could it be that their persistence made it possible for humans to thrive?" [Via Disinformation.]
posted by homunculus on Nov 27, 2007 - 63 comments

Surrealistic Lilliputian Realm

The Inner Life of an Intelligently Designed Cell? Remember The Inner Life of a Cell animation (discussed here)? Apparently the Discovery Institute (recently discussed here) is showing it in presentations with a new title and narration, and without attribution.
posted by homunculus on Nov 20, 2007 - 20 comments

Swarm

From Ants to People, an Instinct to Swarm. Carl Zimmer looks at the work of Iain Couzin. [Via The Loom.]
posted by homunculus on Nov 13, 2007 - 17 comments

Redesign human body parts?

The pancreas is a completely crummy organ...... so which parts of the human body could you design better? Interesting article and comments.
posted by Rumple on Nov 3, 2007 - 71 comments

Poor Devils

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 - 7 comments

A Profound Sense of Time

A Profound Sense of Time. "PZ Myers on the process that prompts the growth of all vertebrates from embryos to unspecialized segments to multicellular animals."
posted by homunculus on Oct 20, 2007 - 12 comments

"We Few, We Happy Few, We Band of Brothers"

"We Few, We Happy Few, We Band of Brothers." Evolutionary psychologist Andy Thomson analyzes suicide terrorism from the perspective of evolutionary biology. The presentation was part of the Atheist Alliance International convention in D.C. last month.
posted by McLir on Oct 13, 2007 - 19 comments

Fishy miscegenation

More cuckoo than cuckoos: mate two salmon, get a... trout! Just give the parents a sperm transplant. And the sperm stem cells work in females too:
...Injecting the male cells into female salmon sometimes worked, too, prompting five female salmon to ovulate trout eggs.... The stem cells were still primitive enough to switch gears from sperm-producers to egg-producers when they wound up inside female organs....

posted by orthogonality on Sep 15, 2007 - 10 comments

Life

The Meaning of Life. "We create life, we search for it, we manipulate and revere it. Is it possible that we haven't yet defined the term (PDF)?" [Via The Loom.]
posted by homunculus on Sep 6, 2007 - 43 comments

Adult skin stem cells heal spinal injuries

Canadian scientists heal spinal injuries with stem cells from skin (in rats). "Over the course of their research, the team found that skin-derived stem cells share characteristics with embryonic neural stem cells, which generate the nervous system. ... After 12 weeks, the rats were able to walk better, with more co-ordination." [more inside]
posted by Artifice_Eternity on Sep 6, 2007 - 40 comments

Video Ergo Sum

Virtual Out-of-Body Experience. Using two procedures to deliberately scramble a person's visual and tactile senses, neuroscientists are able to induce "out-of-body" experiences in people. The effect is the same as the 'rubber hand illusion', but extends the effect to the whole body instead of just one limb (you can try the hand illusion for yourself).
posted by homunculus on Aug 24, 2007 - 11 comments

49 unusual creatures with whom we share the planet

25 Weirdest Animals. See also: 24 bizarre creatures of the deep. Not responsible for nightmares related to the viperfish, the oarfish, or the star-nosed mole.
posted by bijou on Aug 20, 2007 - 63 comments

Genetic discrimination

U.S. military practices genetic discrimination in denying benefits. "Those medically discharged with genetic diseases are left without disability or retirement benefits. Some are fighting back."
posted by homunculus on Aug 20, 2007 - 43 comments

Prime Vertebrae

Prime Vertebrae. PZ Myers discusses the critical difference between having six or seven cervical vertebrae.
posted by homunculus on Aug 13, 2007 - 15 comments

Evolution and Cooperation

In Games, an Insight Into the Rules of Evolution. Carl Zimmer writes about Martin Nowak (previously mentioned here), a mathematical biologist who uses games to understand how cooperation evolved. [Via MindHacks.]
posted by homunculus on Aug 11, 2007 - 4 comments

I'm a cold Italian pizza / I could use a lemon squeezer

Bonobo chimpanzees are commonly thought to be "an example of amicability, sensitivity and, well, humaneness" in the animal kingdom. Ian Parker's Swingers suggests a darker, more savage side to the species that belies popular perception.
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Aug 3, 2007 - 20 comments

Biologists Helping Bookstores

Can't ever find what you are looking for at the bookstore? Tired of seeing pseudoscience or pop psychology books in the science section? Join a grassroots effort to re-shelve books to the appropriate section of the store: Biologists Helping Bookstores.
posted by corpse on Jul 28, 2007 - 31 comments

I smell a rat|dog|cat|mouse

Do You Taste What I Taste? - The first of Slate's 3-part series on the physiology of taste [parts 2, 3]
posted by Gyan on Jul 15, 2007 - 13 comments

Gelatinous red semi-immensity

I think we all know what this "squoctopus" thing should be named. After vigintillions of years baby Cthulhu is loose again, and ravening for delight.
posted by BlackLeotardFront on Jul 5, 2007 - 25 comments

Life from scratch

Dr. Craig Venter, known for his role as a pioneer in the human genome project, has taken a major step towards creating life from scratch: transplanting the entire genome from one bacterium cell to another. Commence the ethics wars.
posted by charmston on Jun 28, 2007 - 32 comments

Plants can recognize siblings

According to a new study in Biology Letters (Royal Society journal), plants respond competitively when forced to share their pot with strangers of the same species, but when placed in a pot with their siblings are more accomodating. PDF, HTML.
posted by christopherious on Jun 17, 2007 - 41 comments

Embryo-free Embryonic Stem-Cells

Simple switch turns cells embryonic. "Researchers have finally hit the jackpot: Embryo-free embryonic stem-cells!"
posted by homunculus on Jun 7, 2007 - 55 comments

What's this for, love?

Useless body parts. Nearly a century and a quarter after Darwin’s death, science still can’t offer a full explanation for why one outdated anatomic trait lingers in the gene pool and another goes. Modern genomics research has revealed that our DNA carries broken genes for things that seem as though they might be useful, like odor receptors for a bloodhound’s sense of smell or enzymes that once enabled us to make our own vitamin C. In a few million years, humans may very well have shed a few more odd features. So look now before they’re gone.
posted by psmealey on Jun 5, 2007 - 113 comments

My molecules have just been sold / Fatty Acid Synthase is a centerfold

Molecule of the Month - a feature of biophysics weblog Biocurious. Don't neglect the more links under each entry.
posted by Wolfdog on Jun 5, 2007 - 20 comments

bugs

The bugmaker and his factory.
posted by dhruva on Jun 3, 2007 - 9 comments

"The field of evolution attracts significantly more speculation than the average area of science."

"Nothing in biology makes sense except in light of evolution." Despite Theodosius Dobzhansky's succint description of natural selection at the core of biological research since Darwin's fateful trip to the Galapagos, evolutionary biologist Michael Lynch respectfully dissents, asking "whether natural selection is a necessary or sufficient force to explain" the complexity of multicellular organisms we see today, where mutation, recombination and genetic drift are often overlooked, but critical factors in evolutionary theory and understanding.
posted by Blazecock Pileon on May 29, 2007 - 90 comments

About psychopaths.

Are these people qualitatively different from us? "I would think yes," says Hare. "Do they form a discrete taxon or category? I would say probably -- the evidence is suggesting that.
Psychopaths. They form about 1% of the population. They enjoy the excitement of power. Some choice bits from Hare's book. The obligatory Bush link, but, hey, it's got the test sections and the sad truth is that we do have some psychopaths in positions of power, though probably not the Presidency. [Gosh this is getting long] It turns out there's a biological basis for it. Here's the DSM description and some detailed analysis/description (gosh, I identify with some of those traits!) And here's some AskMe fodder, "Are You Involved With A Psychopath?" And because of that lust for power... well, it could well be your boss.
posted by five fresh fish on May 28, 2007 - 112 comments

Encyclopedia of Life

The Encyclopedia of Life project will create a compendium of every aspect of the biosphere. It aims to compile data on all of Earth's 1.8 million known species on one Web site, and will include species descriptions, pictures, maps, videos, sound, sightings by amateurs, and links to entire genomes and scientific journal papers. E. O. Wilson is getting his wish. [Via BB.]
posted by homunculus on May 9, 2007 - 31 comments

A Pliocene love that dare not speak its name?

How Do You Get Crabs From A Gorilla? One of many little evolutionary cases Carl Zimmer tackles in The Parasite Files.
posted by homunculus on Apr 18, 2007 - 28 comments

Body symmetry and intelligence

Body Symmetry and Intelligence
posted by Gyan on Apr 18, 2007 - 37 comments

Sperm Precursor Cells Created From Stem Cells

Scientists say they have successfully made immature sperm cells from human bone marrow samples.
posted by jason's_planet on Apr 14, 2007 - 42 comments

In their own words...

In their own words... Researchers at the National Institutes of Health recall the early years of AIDS, from diagnosis of the then-unknown disease, to discovering the viral cause, and from there to the search for treatments. The site features interviews (including several with virologist Robert Gallo), early publications, and a collection of archived image materials.
posted by Blazecock Pileon on Apr 10, 2007 - 11 comments

Buy Metafilter a species!

Are you annoyed that there is no species of blind cave spider named Sinopoda metafilteris or worm salamander named Oedipina bluepepsi? You can fix that for 3,000 Euros at the controversal BIOPAT. For inspiration, the Curiosities of Biological Nomenclature site collects the puns, insults, and other weirdnesses that can be found in the scientific names of various plants and animals [prev.]. Genes are not immune to weird names, especially in the case of the fruitfly, where clever naming is normal; but even better are the world's strangest dinosaur names, which allow you to tremble in fear in front of the bambiraptor and meet the Dragon King of Hogwarts.
posted by blahblahblah on Apr 9, 2007 - 13 comments

British Scientists Grow Heart Valve Tissue from Stem Cells

A British research team led by the world's leading heart surgeon has grown part of a human heart from stem cells for the first time.
posted by jason's_planet on Apr 3, 2007 - 46 comments

Creating Liver Tissue from Bone Marrow Stem Cells

For the first time, researchers have used adult bone marrow stem cells to regenerate healthy human liver tissue, according to a study published in the April issue of the journal Radiology.
posted by jason's_planet on Mar 29, 2007 - 20 comments

Sound makes me feel

Nerve pulses are sound pulses. The membrane of the nerve is composed of lipids, a material that is similar to olive oil. This material can change its state from liquid to solid with temperature. Molecules that dissolve in membranes can lower the freezing point of membranes. The scientists found that the nerve membrane has a freezing point, which is precisely suited to the propagation of these concentrated sound pulses. Their theoretical calculations lead them to the same conclusion: Nerve pulses are sound pulses. This comes from their work on the Thermodynamics of General Anesthesia (pdf). (via Stereophile?)
posted by caddis on Mar 12, 2007 - 45 comments

Biocentrism: putting ourselves (back) on a pedestal

We, the observers: an-entirely-nother approach angle to 'intelligent' design? Robert Lanza, a researcher at Advanced Cell Technology and a professor at Wake Forest, thinks scientists need to privilege life in order to understand the universe (and everything :) by placing the observer at the center (or end?) of it all.
posted by kliuless on Mar 10, 2007 - 35 comments

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