Tag: Genetics and Heredity

A ‘Time Capsule’ for Scientists, Courtesy of Peter the Great

ST. PETERSBURG, Russia — Standing alone, a few minutes before the doors were to open at the Zoological Museum of the Zoological Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Alexei Tikhonov gazed at Masha, a 30,000-year-old baby mammoth that he brought here from a Siberian riverbank thirty years ago. Masha, one of the museum’s star […]

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Matter: Crossing From Asia, the First Americans Rushed Into the Unknown

Nearly 11,000 years ago, a man died in what is now Nevada. Wrapped in a rabbit-skin blanket and reed mats, he was buried in a place called Spirit Cave. Now scientists have recovered and analyzed his DNA, along with that of 70 other ancient people whose remains were discovered throughout the Americas. The findings lend […]

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Trilobites: Deer Antlers Couldn’t Grow So Fast Without These Genes

Every spring, male deer undertake a unique biological ritual: sprouting and rapidly regrowing their massive, spiky antlers. A complex matrix of bone, living tissue and nerve endings, deer antlers can reach 50 inches long and weigh more than 20 pounds before they are shed in winter. Not only are the antlers useful in attracting mates […]

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Liberal Hypocrisy in College Admissions?

We progressives hail opportunity, egalitarianism and diversity. Yet here’s our dirty little secret: Some of our most liberal bastions in America rely on a system of inherited privilege that benefits rich whites at the expense of almost everyone else. I’m talking about “legacy preferences” that elite universities give to children of graduates. These universities constitute […]

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Ties: Family History in Her Bones

I hold my 4-year-old daughter’s hand as she lies on the cold surface of the X-ray table, watching her brow furrow as she concentrates on holding her left ankle at the awkward angle in which the technician placed it. This is, for her, an exciting experience, something about which she feels only curiosity. She asks […]

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Divide and Preserve: Reclassifying Tigers to Help Save Them From Extinction

Fewer than 4,000 tigers remain in the wild. New research aims to give conservationists an improved understanding of their genetics in order to help save them. After years of debate, scientists report in the journal Current Biology that tigers comprise six unique subspecies. One of those subspecies, the South China tiger, survives only in captivity. […]

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Intersex, and Erased Again

Imagine knowing that every aspect of your physiology, from your height to your cup size, was chosen off a menu — not by nature but by doctors and family members. From the second I was born, decisions were made by medical professionals about which of two gender categories my body should fit into. For me, […]

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Matter: Researchers Explore a Cancer Paradox

Cancer is a disease of mutations. Tumor cells are riddled with genetic mutations not found in healthy cells. Scientists estimate that it takes five to 10 key mutations for a healthy cell to become cancerous. Some of these mutations can be caused by assaults from the environment, such as ultraviolet rays and cigarette smoke. Others […]

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Why White Supremacists Are Chugging Milk (and Why Geneticists Are Alarmed)

Nowhere on the agenda of the annual meeting of the American Society of Human Genetics, being held in San Diego this week, is a topic plaguing many of its members: the recurring appropriation of the field’s research in the name of white supremacy. “Sticking your neck out on political issues is difficult,” said Jennifer Wagner, […]

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Elizabeth Warren and the Folly of Genetic Ancestry Tests

This week, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts announced that geneticists had analyzed her DNA and proved her longstanding claim that she has Native American ancestry. Senator Warren had caved in to months of ridicule by President Trump, who mocked her using a racist term and ultimately refused to believe her “useless” DNA test. The question […]

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The Results of Your Genetic Test Are Reassuring. But That Can Change.

A federally-supported database, ClinVar, allows laboratories to publicly share data on genetic mutations and what they are thought to mean. But some companies, like Myriad, which host huge databases on genetic mutations, do not contribute to ClinVar. Even the terminology for DNA variants may not be widely shared. Different labs have different naming schemes. For […]

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How an Unlikely Family History Website Transformed Cold Case Investigations

LAKE WORTH, FLA. — On Halloween night in 1996, a man in a skeleton mask knocked on the door of a house in Martinez, Calif., handcuffed the woman who greeted him and raped her. Two weeks later, he called the dental office where she worked. Investigators tried to track him down through phone records, but […]

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Most White Americans’ DNA Can Be Identified Through Genealogy Databases

The genetic genealogy industry is booming. In recent years, more than 15 million people have offered up their DNA — a cheek swab, some saliva in a test-tube — to services such as 23andMe and Ancestry.com in pursuit of answers about their heritage. In exchange for a genetic fingerprint, individuals may find a birth parent, […]

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Thomas A. Steitz, 78, Dies; Illuminated a Building Block of Life

The problems Dr. Steitz solved were “daunting,” said another friend, Thomas R. Cech of the University of Colorado at Boulder, who shared the chemistry Nobel in 1989. Dr. Steitz, he added, had “a talent that is indescribable.” “It is not just being a great scientist,” he said in an interview. “It is being an artist.” […]

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Trilobites: Life With No Males? These Termites Show That It’s Possible

Termites are often dismissed as nothing but home-destroying pests, less charismatic than bees, ants or even spiders. In fact, termites have been doing incredible things since the time of dinosaurs, maintaining complex societies with divisions of labor, farming fungus and building cathedrals that circulate air the way human lungs do. Now, add “overthrowing the patriarchy” […]

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Giving Malaria a Deadline

Kevin Esvelt, who studies the evolution of gene drives at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, indicated that the biological aspects of mosquito control may now be close to solution. “With this achievement, the major barriers to saving lives are arguably no longer mostly technical, but social and diplomatic,” he said. Launching a gene drive into the […]

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Living With Cancer: Raising Awareness of BRCA Mutations

Ms. Corduck seeks to raise awareness of the vulnerability of Jewish men as well as women. Fathers like her own often carry one of the BRCA mutations that 50 percent of their male and female offspring will inherit. Men with a mutation may suffer from breast, prostate or pancreatic cancers, or melanoma triggered by it. […]

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Trilobites: Elephant Tusk DNA Helps Track Ivory Poachers

Advertisement Trilobites Researchers are examining the genetic data in seized elephant ivory to trace it back to the animals’ homelands and connect it to global trafficking crimes. ImageAfrican elephants in Botswana. Researchers are turning to examining the DNA of elephant tusks to determine where they’re being poached.CreditCreditArt Wolfe/Art Wolfe Inc. By Karen Weintraub Sept. 19, […]

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