Genetic Clues Reveal How Giraffes Got Their Long Necks

For the first time ever, scientists have sequenced the genome of the world’s tallest land species, the giraffe. Surprisingly, this majestic creature required only a small handful of mutations to attain its remarkable physical stature and physiology—but these mutations packed an evolutionary punch.

Source: Genetic Clues Reveal How Giraffes Got Their Long Necks

You don’t fool me! They stretched their necks out reaching for more food! Same way we get tailless mice! 😉

New App Aims to Help Researchers Look for a Genetic Link to Postpartum Depression

With mothers and medical providers clamoring for answers about postpartum depression, scientists are beginning a major effort to understand the genetic underpinnings of mood disorders that afflict millions of women during and after pregnancy.

Source: Hunting the Genetic Signs of Postpartum Depression With an iPhone App

Women with high scores will be asked if they’d like to submit a DNA sample to researchers at UNC. If users agree, they will be mailed an oral kit. Researchers assured the Times that even though personal information like name and address are required, that data will be encrypted in order to preserve privacy.

Don’t Hate Perky Morning People: It Might Be Their DNA’s Fault

The people who burst from bed as the sun rises to cheerily tackle their to-do list—while others sluggishly rouse and fumble with coffee makers—may have a few DNA tweaks in common.

Source: Don’t hate perky morning people: It might be their DNA’s fault

Being a morning person is associated with lower risks of depression…  Speaking as a cheerful morning person myself, my theory is that part of that is all the free schadenfreude we get access to just by watching all the other poor schlubs trying to get moving in the morning.

Your DNA Can Teach Us About Ancient History

Earlier this year, researchers from Oxford University published a study showing how the slave trade and colonization shaped the genetics of North and South America.

Analyzing more than 4,000 DNA samples from across both continents, as well as Europe and Africa, they were able to detect patterns in line with what historians knew about migrations across the Atlantic.

Source: What Your DNA Says About Medieval History

I’d like to know who was slumming around with the Neanderthals. Do you think the cave ladies got tired of their uptight cavemen? Maybe the cavemen partied with Neanderthal hotties!

It’s research like this that has allowed us to determine when Y-chromosomal Adam existed, and that a handful of Bronze age men could have fathered 2/3rds of the European population.

First Complete Octopus Genome Will Unlock Cephalopod Secrets

Scientists have finished sequencing the first complete octopus genome, and it’s a big step toward unraveling many cephalopod mysteries, including the basis of their unusual intelligence and unmatched camouflage abilities.

Source: First Complete Octopus Genome Will Unlock Cephalopod Secrets

One of the most interesting things on the planet.  I love the story about how one would secretly get into another tank to feed during the night, and be back in the regular tank for the morning.  There’s an aquarium in Seattle, Washington, where the janitors regularly have to put octopus back in their tanks – the octopus are scaling the walls!

What some might not know, is that we have encountered “hexapus” – six armed octopus.

Genome of Enigmatic Kennewick Skeleton Confirmed to be Native American

In 1996, a human skeleton washed out of a riverbank in Washington state. In time, searchers found roughly 90 percent of what was identified as a contemporary male of European descent. But carbon dating of the bones threw that ID out the window: the skeleton, which became known as Kennewick Man, was over 8,000 years old—he lived closer to a time when North America was devoid of humans than he did to the arrival of Europeans.

Source: Genome of enigmatic Kennewick skeleton confirms he was Native American

The skeleton did not wash up on the shores of the Columbia river, it was actually found by Will Thomas while watching the boat races (hydros) in the Tri-Cities and the rest of the skeleton was later found when they searched the area for more pieces.

Everything You Need to Know About CRISPR, the New Tool that Edits DNA

CRISPR, a new genome editing tool, could transform the field of biology—and a recent study on genetically-engineered human embryos has converted this promise into media hype. But scientists have been tinkering with genomes for decades. Why is CRISPR suddenly such a big deal?

Source: Everything You Need to Know About CRISPR, the New Tool that Edits DNA

Everybody calls it CRISPR, but it’s Cas9 that does all the work. Ain’t fair.

What Made the Y Chromosome So Tiny?

The Y chromosome, a chunk of genetic code that is unique to male animals, isn’t just physically smaller than the X. It also contains far fewer genes. The X has more than 1000 genes, while the Y has fewer than 200 —and most of them don’t even work. Why do men have this odd, stunted chromosome in their genomes?

Source: What Made the Y Chromosome So Tiny?

Some animals already have lost the Y for good. And yet, they keep having male offspring. How? Nob0dy knows yet.