Frozen Zoos Are Genetic Archives For Hundreds Of Species
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Zoos are controversial places. It's undeniably cool to see a real, live lion up close, shaggy mane and all. But it's sad to think this wild creature lives its life confined in an often too-small, fenced-in public arena. On the other hand, important research is conducted at zoos that ultimately helps species survive. But on the other, other hand... You get the idea. If you struggle with the idea of a traditional zoo, you may prefer to learn about frozen zoos. Frozen zoos are facilities that house the genetic materials of a variety of species and subspecies, and are used to help them stay around. Yay for saving animals!
It's Theoretically Possible To Grow A Human With Wings
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How cool would it be to sprout wings and fly like a bird? What about growing to the size of an elephant, or spring-loading your legs so you could run as fast as a cheetah? Unfortunately, these things aren't possible for a fully grown human like you. But, theoretically, some of them could be possible with a human that isn't born yet. All it takes is for scientists to find the genes for wings in one animal—say, a bird or a bat—and swap them in at the right spot in a human's DNA. But that's only theoretical. We don't yet know enough about the DNA of birds or bats to know which genes are responsible for sprouting wings, but we could someday.
Don't Panic, But Snakes Still Have The Gene To Grow Legs
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Ophidiophobics beware! If you have an abnormal fear of snakes, you may not like this article. Snakes are slithery, slimy, sneaky, and some might even say they're sinister—but at least they don't have legs, right? Well, snakes actually do possess the gene required for limb growth. Does this mean snakes will start sprouting legs? Who's to say for sure how evolution will continue to shape their reptiles. But we do know that snakes used to have legs, which is how the mostly dormant gene got there in the first place.
A Baby Was Born With The DNA Of 3 People
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It's possible to have more than two parents these days. Not just legally speaking, but at a genetic level too. It's actually been possible for a baby to be born with the DNA of three parents since the 1990s, but the concept took an unprecedented step in September 2016, when the first baby with the DNA of three parents was born using a new technique called mitochondrial donation. Thanks to this revolutionary method, the baby doesn't have Leigh Syndrome, a genetic condition that was present in the mother's genes (this technique can be used to avoid a number of genetic conditions). This is huge and exciting news for science, but, of course, it doesn't come without controversy.
1 In 5 Genetics Papers Have Microsoft Excel Errors
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If you've ever used a spreadsheet program, you know the frustration of entering one thing and seeing it autoformat to another. If this formatting error goes unnoticed it might be a serious problem when it comes to your finances, but it's catastrophic when it comes to science. A study in the journal Genome Biology found that 19.6%—roughly 1 in 5—of genetics articles published with Excel files contained these types of errors. The problem stems from the way gene names are written. For example, the gene "Membrane-Associated Ring Finger (C3HC4) 1, E3 Ubiquitin Protein Ligase" is known as MARCH1 in shorthand, which Microsoft Excel's default settings automatically convert to "1-Mar" or another calendar date format. Likewise, when scientists entered genetic ID numbers, they were turned into floating-point numbers ("2310009E13" became "2.31E+13", for example). According to Popular Mechanics, scientists can't just reformat their Excel files, as that won't turn the calendar dates back into gene names. Instead, they must manually reformat a blank document and re-enter their data cell by cell. Luckily, these errors don't have much impact on the papers' original findings, but they will post a problem for any scientist who wants to replicate a study. Learn more about scientific studies in the videos below.