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Category: Life: Genetics & Evolution

Why whales grew to such monster sizes

A new study in Science Magazine explains the evolutionary forces behind the ocean’s behemoths. It offers an explanation of why some whales became the world’s biggest animals. “They found that the baleen whales’ growth spurt coincided with the beginning of the first ice ages. As glaciers expanded, spring and summer runoff poured nutrients into the …

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How Sherpas have evolved ‘superhuman’ energy efficiency

New research at Cambridge University reveals how the people living at high altitude in the Himalayas, sherpas included, have evolved to become superhuman mountain climbers, extremely efficient at producing the energy to power their bodies even when oxygen is scarce. The new research was published yesterday in the Proceedings of National Academy of Sciences (PNAS). …

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Engineering Human Genomes & Environments with Dr. George M. Church

This FORA.tv lecture by Dr. George M. Church is on two ever more relevant topics, genetic engineering of humans and what gene drive could imply for the environment and our future. CRISPR and its great potential is also accompanied with potentially catastrophic adverse effects. The CRISPR gene editing tools can be used to create a …

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TED-Ed: The evolution of animal genitalia – Menno Schilthuizen

Genitals are the fastest-evolving organs in the animal kingdom. But why is this so? And what’s the point of having decorative private parts? Menno Schilthuizen explains how the evolutionary biology of nature’s nether regions uncovers a hidden world of seduction, conflict, and rivalry.  

TED: The era of personal DNA testing is here | Sebastian Kraves

From improving vaccines to modifying crops to solving crimes, DNA technology has transformed our world. Now, for the first time in history, anyone can experiment with DNA at home, in their kitchen, using a device smaller than a shoebox. We are living in a personal DNA revolution, says biotech entrepreneur Sebastian Kraves, where the secrets …

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Nature video: Printing Lucy

Researchers believe they’ve discovered how Lucy, a 3.2 million year old human relative, died. To convince others of their theory, the researchers released 3D scans of Lucy’s bones. In this Nature Video we 3D print Lucy’s bones to see for ourselves.  

University of California: Neandertal Denisovan Human Interbreeding

This symposium brings together researchers at the forefront of ancient DNA research and population genetics to discuss current developments and share insights about human migration and adaptation.  

Cambridge University: Lines of Thought: From Darwin to DNA

The idea that characteristics could be passed from one generation to another was crucial to Charles Darwin’s theory of how new forms of life develop. In the 1950s the structure of DNA, the compound that encodes genetic information, was finally deciphered by Francis Crick, James Watson, Rosalind Franklin and Maurice Wilkins, all of whom were …

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University of Oxford: Scientists show that dogs were domesticated twice

The question, ‘Where do domestic dogs come from?’, has vexed scholars for a very long time. Some argue that humans first domesticated wolves in Europe, while others claim this happened in Central Asia or China. A new paper, published in Science, suggests that all these claims may be right. Supported by funding from the European …

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University of California: CARTA: DNA–Neandertal and Denisovan Genomes; Neandertal Genes in Humans; Neandertal Interbreeding

This symposium brings together researchers at the forefront of ancient DNA research and population genetics to discuss current developments and share insights about human migration and adaptation.

TED Ed: Rosalind Franklin: DNA’s unsung hero – Cláudio L. Guerra

The discovery of the structure of DNA was one of the most important scientific achievements in human history. The now-famous double helix is almost synonymous with Watson and Crick, two of the scientists who won the Nobel prize for figuring it out. But there’s another name you may not know: Rosalind Franklin. Cláudio L. Guerra …

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Nature: Hobbit histories: the origins of Homo floresiensis

The origins of the species known as ‘the hobbit’ – a human relative only a little over a metre tall – have been debated ever since its discovery in 2004. Now new fossils may reveal the ancestors of this strange species and help us to understand its history.

Veritasium: Inside the Svalbard Seed Vault

A rare look inside the Svalbard Global Seed Vault which is closed ~350 days a year. The Svalbard Global Seed Vault is a secure seed bank on the Norwegian island of Spitsbergen near Longyearbyen in the remote Arctic Svalbard archipelago, about 1,300 kilometers from the North Pole.  

TED: How humans could evolve to survive in space | Lisa Nip

If we hope to one day leave Earth and explore the universe, our bodies are going to have to get a lot better at surviving the harsh conditions of space. Using synthetic biology, Lisa Nip hopes to harness special powers from microbes on Earth — such as the ability to withstand radiation — to make …

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Nature Video: Ten years of DNA origami

DNA origami is the art of folding DNA. The idea is to create tiny nanoscale machines that could work inside the human body. In the ten years since the technique was first reported the field has grown massively. Nature Video finds out how DNA origami works and what has been achieved so far.  

Gresham College: The Mathematics of Evolutionary Biology – Professor Sarah Coakley

The latter part of the 20th century saw a revulsion against classic forms of “natural theology” which was propelled as much by theological fashion as by secular scientific resistance. This lecture lays out a cautious case for the reconsideration of a new style of “natural theology”. It does so in the light of remarkable new …

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Vox: Proof of evolution that you can find on your body

You have your mom’s smile, your dad’s eyes, and the ear muscles of a Triassic mammal.  

American Museum of Natural History: Transformation: Dinosaurs to Birds

This spellbinding animation from the Museum’s new exhibition “Dinosaurs Among Us” traces the evolutionary transition from dinosaurs to birds.  

Max Planck Society: Gen-editing mit CRISPR/Cas9 (english subtitles)

The discovery that bacteria with a kind of immune system can defend against viruses, did initially only excite microbiologists. Since then, however, it became known that using these we can manipulate the genome of different organisms with the method called CRISPR / Cas9, also non-scientists became interested in this new method of genetic engineering. But …

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TED-Ed: The science of skin color

When ultraviolet sunlight hits our skin, it affects each of us differently. Depending on skin color, it’ll take only minutes of exposure to turn one person beetroot-pink, while another requires hours to experience the slightest change. What’s to account for that difference, and how did our skin come to take on so many different hues …

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