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Category Archives: evolution

In the Light of Evolution III: Two Centuries of Darwin – Sackler Colloquium

This is a series of papers from a recent Sackler colloquium of the National Academy of Sciences entitled “In the Light of Evolution III: Two Centuries of Darwin“. You can watch most of the presentations online here. The conference papers are published in a supplemental issue of the PNAS. I read Daniel Dennett‘s paper because […]

The origin of laughter

Why do we laugh? Is there any evolutionary significance? Well, instead of pondering about these questions… why not tickle a primate to find it out? Humans aren’t the only ones who like it in the armpit. Our fellow great apes — orangutans, chimps, bonobos and gorillas — also squeal in response to tickling, and new […]

The origin of RNA

A fundamental but elusive step in the early evolution of life on Earth has been replicated in a laboratory. Researchers synthesized the basic ingredients of RNA, a molecule from which the simplest self-replicating structures are made. Until now, they couldn’t explain how these ingredients might have formed. …. No matter how they combined the ingredients […]

Silent mutations are not silent after all

We briefly mentioned the idea of silent mutation in the lab meeting the other day when we discussed how DNA mutations can cause diseases. In general, a polymorphism in the wobble (3rd) position of the DNA codon often would not change the amino acid sequence. However, that doesn’t mean everything would be the same or […]

Animal can dance to music!

A scientific research paper can start with a viral video on youtube. A while ago a cockatoo called Snowball was shown to dance to music. Interesting questions were raised by this observation. Did the bird really dance to the music or did it mimic the human action? Dancing is a complex behaviour that requires coordination […]