genetics

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Today's Sperm Whales Descended From One 'Eve'

An ancient whale appears to be the mother of all modern sperm whales

(Newser) - While investigating samples of toxic levels of heavy metals found in sperm whales, researchers stumbled upon a surprising discovery: All of today's sperm whales appear to have descended from the same female, reports Hakai magazine. They've named her Eve and say she lived between 10,000 and 80,... More »

Ancient Virus Could Determine the Sex of Your Baby

'Why ... is a fascinating question'

(Newser) - The sex of baby mice—and quite likely baby humans—is determined by a virus that inserted itself into the mammalian genome 1.5 million years ago, Live Science reports. Yale researchers published their surprising findings on March 30 in Nature . According to a press release , more than 40% of... More »

Vegetarian Ancestors Affect Your Cancer Risk

Those with gene mutation could overload on fatty acids

(Newser) - You've probably never given thought to what your ancestors stuffed down their gullets. Now might be the time. In a new study in Molecular Biology and Evolution, Cornell University researchers explain that people who come from a line of mostly plant eaters likely carry a gene mutation used to... More »

Scientists Grow Chickens With Dinosaur Legs

'With one small modification, millions of years of evolution can be undone'

(Newser) - Scientists—presumably so preoccupied with whether or not they could, they didn't stop to think whether they should—have grown chickens with dinosaur legs, Phys.org reports. More accurately, a team at the University of Chile grew chicken embryos with dinosaur-like fibulas. In modern birds, the fibula is shorter... More »

Dad Learns He's Autistic When Daughter Is Diagnosed

Chris Offer had been with his wife 7 years before diagnosis

(Newser) - In the early days of their relationship, Jessica Offer says she and her now husband Chris Offer would argue over his discomfort in looking people directly in the eye. Then there was the sensitivity to social overload. And after moving in together, the absurd neatness of their kitchen pantry. But... More »

Your Size Predicts How Much You Earn

Short men, overweight women are at a disadvantage: study

(Newser) - Bad news for short men and overweight women: You have "reduced chances in life" when it comes to income, education, and job prospects, the Washington Post reports via a new study in the British Medical Journal . University of Exeter researchers analyzed how genetic variants related to height and BMI... More »

Morning Person or Night Owl? Your Genes May Decide

Biology may be influencing if you stay up all night or wake up with the sun

(Newser) - You may be naturally disposed toward being a morning person or a night owl—and scientists are now saying that may have a true biological basis that's hard to fight, the Guardian reports. Per a study published Tuesday in Nature Communications , researchers under the direction of 23andMe lead scientist... More »

UK Gives Controversial OK for Editing Human Genes

It could help fight inherited diseases—but critics say there's an ethical 'slippery slope'

(Newser) - Britain's fertility regulator has approved a scientist's request to edit the human genetic code in an effort to fight inherited diseases—but critics fear the new technique crosses too many ethical boundaries, reports the AP . The Human Fertilization and Embryology Authority announced Monday it has granted a research... More »

New Study Is 'Crucial Turning Point' in Battle Against Schizophrenia

Scientists may have found the genetic cause for the disease

(Newser) - Scientists published Wednesday what the New York Times is calling a "landmark study" in the fight against schizophrenia. “This paper gives us a foothold, something we can work on, and that’s what we’ve been looking for now, for a long, long time,” one genetics professor... More »

Sex With Neanderthals May Explain Modern Allergies

But it probably also helped our ancestors stay alive

(Newser) - You may have to pump yourself full of Zyrtec just to step outside during allergy season because your ancestors couldn't keep their hands off those sexy Neanderthals, suggests two new studies in the American Journal of Human Genetics. Neanderthals and a second now-extinct hominid—Denisovans—were living in Europe... More »

New Study Reveals How Tuxedo Cats Get Their Tuxedos

Scientists were way off

(Newser) - Researchers now know why and how tuxedo cats wear a tuxedo—and it's not for formal galas (cats hate those). The Guardian reports scientists had already figured out that piebald animals get their distinctive white patches because of a mutated gene. But they were way off in their theory... More »

Irish Bones May Settle 'Archaeological Controversy'

What researchers learned from 4 sets of remains

(Newser) - It's a "long-standing archaeological controversy": whether the Irish shifted from hunter-gatherers to farmers because of adaptation or migration. A new DNA analysis of remains from several people, dating back thousands of years, may settle the question—as well as provide a better sense of where the Irish came... More »

Scientists: We May Be Able to Alter Human Intelligence

There are 2 gene networks perhaps controlled by master 'switches': researchers

(Newser) - Researchers from London's Imperial College think they've found two networks of genes, possibly controlled by a master system, that control cognitive functions—a find that may allow them to modify human intelligence down the line, the Guardian reports. In a study published in Nature Neuroscience , scientists say these... More »

Study May Reveal Why Some People Live So Long

It's in the genes

(Newser) - Science may be closer to figuring out why some people live so darn long. Researchers studying 1,800 people over the age of 100 and another 5,400 over the age of 90 discovered four genes linked to their longevity, Live Science reports. "There's a reasonably strong genetic... More »

This Artist's DNA Could Be Yours for the Right Price

'An extremely personal self portrait'

(Newser) - A 29-year-old Dutch artist is selling what he calls "an extremely personal self portrait." How extremely personal? Let's just say it's everything that makes him him—genetically speaking. Jeroen van Loon has made his entire DNA sequence available to the highest bidder as part of a... More »

Dad Learns That Unborn Twin 'Fathered' His Son

Parents were concerned when son had a different blood type

(Newser) - Sorry sir, you're not the father of your newborn child—your unborn brother is. So a 34-year-old man was told in the only known case of a paternity test being tricked by a so-called "human chimera," the Independent reports. It began when a US couple learned that... More »

Study: DNA Test Can Predict Whether You're Gay

Potential for misuse troubles lead scientist, who's just left the lab

(Newser) - UCLA scientists think they've developed the first test that can accurately predict whether a man is gay based on his DNA, and all it takes is a swab of saliva, reports New Scientist . The researchers examined 400,000 epigenetic tags—"chemicals that latch onto DNA and help turn... More »

Holocaust Survivors' Trauma Lives On in Kids' Genes

Study may explain why offspring are more at risk for stress disorders

(Newser) - Holocaust survivors pass on trauma through their genes, making their children and possibly even grandchildren more susceptible to PTSD and other stress disorders, according to new research . The Guardian reports researchers looked at 32 Jewish men and women who survived traumatic experiences at the hands of Nazis during World War... More »

Tongue-Rolling Myth Totally 'Debunked'

Biologist John McDonald aims to set the record straight

(Newser) - For anyone who can still proudly recall one factoid learned in high school biology—that the ability to roll one's tongue is genetic—bad news: You learned it wrong. John McDonald, an evolutionary biologist, is out to debunk what he calls a myth about the genetic roots of tongue-rolling,... More »

Causes of Cerebral Palsy Not What We Thought

Canadian study looks at the DNA of stricken children

(Newser) - Parents of children with cerebral palsy, take note: Your child's illness may be in the genes. A surprising new study in Nature is linking cerebral palsy to genetic variants and challenging the notion that environmental factors are solely responsible, the Globe & Mail reports. "Nobody really wanted us... More »

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