"It is true, and thus the question of whether it is sad or happy has no meaning whatever."
Bernhard Schlink

Science is best when discussed: leave your thoughts and ideas in the comments!!

Saturday, October 28, 2006


Learning more about genes and genomes is a critically important task for modern medicine - it offers the possibility of better drugs, targeted treatments, and generally better health care. The recent sequencing of the honey bee genome may seem remote from the goal of treating humans, but it turns out that we share more genes and proteins with the bees than you might think. Particularly, bee genes relating to social behavior and learning could prove most enlightening for behavioral researchers in humans.

After the bee genome was sequenced, researchers working in Burma uncovered a 100 million year-old bee - the oldest yet discovered - preserved in amber. The new specimen fits nicely with the theoretical evolutionary framework of modern bees and wasps (that pollen-eating bees evolved from carnivorous wasps), and adds more data to our growing evolutionary tree. Cool!

A human gene of interest - in this case, interleukin-23 - is one that seems to protect its carriers from various types of inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn's. Discoveries like this can often lead to not only better, targeted treatments for specific diseases, but also to a better understanding of how all of our bits fit together in the first place, and work so well.

Back to behavior, and along with working together, it seems that competition with humans is causing the destruction of elephant culture, leading elephants to seek violent, crafty revenge on humans who come nearly. This is really scary stuff, but in a small way, you gotta kinda cheer for the pachyderms here - it's so rare that endangered animals can fight back at all, let alone so effectively!

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