Middle East & South Asia

Real Indian Genome Study Reveals Origins

India has a large and diverse population with many language and tribal groups, but little is known about where they originally came from.  An international group of scientists from USA, India and Finland have carried out an extensive study of genomes of over 2,700 people from every geographic region, speakers of every major language group, […]

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Bad Bacteria Have Broken Genes

Bad bacteria have broken genes.  We all carry an enormous population of microbes, known as the “microbiome,” in our digestive systems and on other internal and external body surfaces.  These include some bacteria that can cause serious disease if they get into body tissues and organs, but most of the time they are harmless or […]

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Crustacean Silk Evolved Six Times

Crustacean silk evolved six times, claim scientists.  Silk is a protein fibre, best known for being produced by silkworms (larvae of moths).  Other insects including bees and flies also make silk.  Less well-known silk producers include tiny water dwelling shrimp like crustaceans called amphipods. Two scientists from University of Santa Barbara (USA) carried out a survey […]

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Wild Dog

Dog Fox Hybrid Found in Brazil

Scientists in Brazil have identified an unusual canine brought to a veterinary clinic as being the hybrid offspring of a dog and a pampas fox.  The animal, a female, was the size and build of a medium size dog but had fox-like facial features and ears and thick black-brown fur.  A study of its chromosomes […]

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Snake in Grass

Snakes’ Lost Genes 

A team of scientists has studied the genomes of 14 species from 12 families of snakes to find out what genetic changes happened for reptiles with four limbs and two lungs to change into snakes with no limbs and one lung.  The found three parts of a gene called PTCH1 had missing DNA. This gene […]

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Feather

Chicken Scales Turned to Feathers

Chicken scales turned to feathers (again).  Two scientists at University of Geneva have used a gene stimulating technique to get chicken embryos to develop feathers on their feet and legs instead of scales.  The method involved stimulating genes named Sonic Hedgehog (Shh), which have an important role in organising and developing body organs and structures […]

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Oldest Fossil Brain

An international team of scientists have studied the fossil of a lobopodian, a small extinct arthropod with a segmented trunk and multiple short stubby legs.  The fossil has been named Cardiodictyon catenulum and is dated as 525 million years old.  Using sophisticated scanning techniques the researchers were able to identify the creature’s brain.  Nicholas Strausfeld […]

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Butterfly Wing Pattern

Butterfly Wing Patterns from “Junk” DNA

A century ago biologists suggested that butterfly wing patterns were formed from variations in a basic ground plan that was somehow manipulated to produce the distinct patterns in different butterfly species. Scientists at Cornell University and The George Washington University have now carried out a study that “explains how DNA that sits between genes – […]

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Double Helix

“Without Proteins, DNA is Nothing”

When the human genome was first presented to the world it had many gaps in it, especially from regions where there were lots of repetitive sequences.  These tended to be around the two ends of each chromosome, called telomeres, and around a region called the centromere, where the chromosomes are held together and then separated […]

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Aquilegia

Hopeful Monster Flowers 

Darwin proposed that evolutionary changes occur by a long series of small incremental changes over long periods of time.  Six decades later Richard Goldschmidt proposed that evolution happened by sudden large changes resulting in new organisms with new structures and functions, which he called “hopeful monsters”.  A group of evolutionary biologists at University of California […]

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