Tag: Genetics and Heredity

Millions of Ibises Were Mummified. But Where Did Ancient Egypt Get Them?

The ancient Egyptians left us with plenty of head scratching. How did they actually build the pyramids? Where is Queen Nefertiti buried? What’s inside that mysterious void in the Great Pyramid of Giza? Then there are the deeper cuts. For example: Where did Egypt get the millions — yes, millions — of African sacred ibises […]

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Hibernation Works for Bears. Could It Work for Us, Too?

There are three major seasons in the life of a bear: the active season, beginning in May; a period of intense eating, in late September, and hibernation, from January into spring. Physiologically, the hibernation period is the strangest, and the most compelling, to researchers. When a bear hibernates, its metabolic rate and heart rate drop […]

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How Did Plants Conquer Land? These Humble Algae Hold Clues

If you’ve ever noticed a slimy film of algae on a rock, chances are you didn’t pay it much attention. But some of these overlooked species hold clues to one of the greatest mysteries of evolution, scientists have found: how plants arrived on land. On Thursday, researchers published the genomes of two algae that are […]

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We Can Help Men Live Longer

All over the country, men are dying. Every kind of man: rich and poor, blue collar and white collar, men of all races, religions and ethnicities. In addition to sex, these dying Americans share another trait: They are no longer young. How can it be that men by the millions are dying while their female […]

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‘Game-Changer’ Warrant Let Detective Search Genetic Database

For police officers around the country, the genetic profiles that 20 million people have uploaded to consumer DNA sites represent a tantalizing resource that could be used to solve cases both new and cold. But for years, the vast majority of the data have been off-limits to investigators. The two largest sites, Ancestry.com and 23andMe, […]

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Why Didn’t She Get Alzheimer’s? The Answer Could Hold a Key to Fighting the Disease

The woman’s genetic profile showed she would develop Alzheimer’s by the time she turned 50. A member of the world’s largest family to suffer from Alzheimer’s, she, like generations of her relatives, was born with a gene mutation that causes people to begin having memory and thinking problems in their 40s and deteriorate rapidly toward […]

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Studies Yield ‘Impressive’ Results in Fight Against Cystic Fibrosis

A pair of new studies report “impressive” benefits from a drug therapy for cystic fibrosis, a deadly and devastating disease that affects tens of thousands of people worldwide, the director of the National Institutes of Health wrote in an editorial published in The New England Journal of Medicine on Thursday. “These findings indicate that it […]

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After This Fungus Turns Ants Into Zombies, Their Bodies Explode

Evolutionary biologists retrace the history of life in all its wondrous forms. Some search for the origin of our species. Others hunt for the origin of birds. On Thursday, a team of researchers reported an important new insight into the origin of zombies — in this case, ants zombified by a fungus. Here’s how it […]

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The Mystery of the Melanistic Manta Rays

Spanning up to 25 feet from wing to wing, manta rays look like U.F.O.’s from below. If you ever get a chance to dive with them, look up. Lights won’t beam down and abduct you, but something about their bellies may surprise you. Most are white, but some are splattered with unique black blotches. This […]

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A Virus in Koala DNA Shows Evolution in Action

Koalas have been running into hard times. They have suffered for years from habitat destruction, dog attacks, automobile accidents. But that’s only the beginning. They are also plagued by chlamydia and cancers like leukemia and lymphoma, and in researching those problems, scientists have found a natural laboratory in which to study one of the hottest […]

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Scientists Designed a Drug for Just One Patient. Her Name Is Mila.

A new drug, created to treat just one patient, has pushed the bounds of personalized medicine and has raised unexplored regulatory and ethical questions, scientists reported on Wednesday. The drug, described in the New England Journal of Medicine, is believed to be the first “custom” treatment for a genetic disease. It is called milasen, named […]

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Playing Catch a Killer With a Room Full of Sleuths

PALM SPRINGS, Calif. — On a recent afternoon, under two giant chandeliers, some of the key people responsible for the future of crime and privacy tried to solve a murder. “She was found in 1982 in Newark,” said the class leader, who opened the session by bursting into song. That plus the little plates of […]

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These Butterflies Evolved to Eat Poison. How Could That Have Happened?

Monarch butterflies eat only milkweed, a poisonous plant that should kill them. The butterflies thrive on it, even storing milkweed toxins in their bodies as a defense against hungry birds. For decades, scientists have marveled at this adaptation. On Thursday, a team of researchers announced they had pinpointed the key evolutionary steps that led to […]

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Joachim Messing, 73, Who Charted the DNA of Viruses and Plants, Dies

Joachim Messing, a pioneer of DNA sequencing whose techniques enabled scientists to study the building blocks of viruses, improve the yield of crop plants and understand the development of cancer in humans, died on Sept. 13 at his home in Somerset, N.J. He was 73. His death was confirmed by his son, Simon, who said […]

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What Whales and Dolphins Left Behind for Life in the Ocean

When the land-dwelling ancestors of today’s whales and dolphins slipped into the seas long ago, they gained many things, including flippers, the ability to hold their breath for long periods of time and thick, tough skin. Along the way they also discarded many traits that were no longer relevant or useful. In fact, as scientists […]

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How Long Before These Salmon Are Gone? ‘Maybe 20 Years’

NORTH FORK, Idaho — The Middle Fork of the Salmon River, one of the wildest rivers in the contiguous United States, is prime fish habitat. Cold, clear waters from melting snow tumble out of the Salmon River Mountains and into the boulder-strewn river, which is federally protected. The last of the spawning spring-summer Chinook salmon […]

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Why This Scientist Keeps Receiving Packages of Serial Killers’ Hair

Those fortunate enough to have a head of hair generally leave 50 to 100 strands behind on any given day. Those hairs are hardy, capable of withstanding years or even centuries of rain, heat and wind. The trouble for detectives, or anyone else seeking to figure out who a strand of hair belonged to, is […]

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What the Ingebrigtsen Brothers Can Teach Us About Nature, Nurture and Running

Is there one right way to rear and shape a young runner? According to an intimate new case study of the lives, backgrounds and training of Henrik, Filip and Jakob Ingebrigtsen, three world-class, middle-distance runners and brothers from Norway, young athletes may be able to follow varying routes to running success. But all of the […]

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New Electric Eel Is Most Shocking Yet

The average shock from an electric eel lasts about two-thousandths of a second. The pain isn’t searing — unlike, say, sticking your finger in a wall socket — but isn’t pleasant: a brief muscle contraction, then numbness. For scientists who study the animal, the pain comes with the professional territory. “I remember the first time […]

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Who’s Missing From Breast Cancer Trials? Men, Says the F.D.A.

In recent years, health officials have pushed aggressively to include more women in clinical trials of new drugs. Gone is the ban that once excluded women of childbearing age from participating in studies. Even scientists who work with animals are now encouraged to include mice and rats of both sexes. But when it comes to […]

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