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New genetic analysis split Killer Whales into 4+ species

Turn on the Science Channel or Animal Planet, and until very recently Killer Whales (actually a type of oceanic dolphin) were described as a single unitary species. Now, genetic analysis indicates that in fact they are at least four species, perhaps more. This has important implications for species...

DNA analysis suggests polar bears evolved relatively recently

Ursus maritimus , the polar bear, is a specialized predator that (ignoring those that forage for garbage in towns and villages along the Arctic coast) hunts solely on sea ice. Several studies have concurred that polar bears are closely related to brown bears. However, there is substantial disagreement...

Will DNA analysis begin to substitute for actuarial tables in wrongful death and disability cases?

In wrongful death cases and in cases involving permanent injuries that require a life-time to care, it is common for estimates to be made of the "value of the life" or "time needed for care" from actuarial tables that allegedly reflect the particulars of the plaintiff. However, with...

Even toxics can act as a generic selection factor in the environment

One of the themes of this blog has been that virtually anything present in the environment can act as a selection factor influencing the course of evolution. A recent study on fish and PCB's and dioxins illustrates this point. Unfortunately for humans, the end result is not necessarily positive or...

Although fire ants originated in the U.S. as the result of "imports" from South America, their spread to many other countries is from the U.S., new genetic assessment shows

Fire ants are a royal pain (literally and figuratively). Chemical pesticides and many other brews have tried to wipe them out, unfortunately without success. They are now colonizing many other countries. But, what is the origin of these new invasions? The aggressive, stinging fire ants ( Solenopsis...

Evolution is a complex process, just ask the Transylvanian naked-neck chicken

Prior posts have noted that selection factors that influence evolution can be highly variable, and sometimes surprising. It is not the simple "survival of the fitest" postulated by Darwin (who in fairness could not have known about many of the selection factors and processes described in these...

Could DNA that is no longer present in the human genome have helped to make humans what we are? Very likely.

Prior posts have looked at a variety of issues related to genes and what allegedly makes humans what we supposedly are. But, is it possible that DNA that is no longer present in the genome also helped to shape us? How would we know? Most research into homo sapien genomics has focused on teasing out...

More Studies are Focusing on the Types of Bacteria that are Part of all Humans

Prior posts have noted that a) for every 1 human cell there are 10 bacteria in or on our bodies; b) these bacteria are key to the digestion of our food, production of necessary nutrients, and disease prevention; c) the nature of our diet influences the make-up of bacterial colonies in our GI tract; d...