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Anthropological fieldwork and laboratory analysis have been at the core of the Genographic Project since its launch in 2005. In addition to DNA sampling and analysis, learning about the local culture and history is another component of Genographic Project research that compliments the biological data. Some of the most interesting and revealing regions where Genographic Scientists work today are the continental crossroads– places where distinct continental groups meet geographically, making their history and their genetic results very interesting. Last month marked her second Genographic Project visit to the islands to work with the Santa Rosa First People Community of Trinidad.
Away in the Northern Range of Trinidad, where the landscape is lush and dotted with papaya and cacao trees, Dr.
My great grandmother is listed as African, but I have hit a brick wall and can find no further information. National Geographic VoicesResearchers, conservationists, and others around the world share stories and commentary on the National Geographic Society's conversation platform Voices.
Society Field Inspection 2016: Gulf of CaliforniaDescribed by Jacques Cousteau as the "aquarium of the world," the Gulf of California in Mexico is threatened by coastal development, climate change, and other human activities. Support National GeographicWe've supported more than 11,000 grants to scientists and others in the field.Learn more about our work. Two years after being discovered deep in a South African cave, the 1,500 fossils excavated during the Rising Star Expedition have been identified as belonging to a previously unknown early human relative that National Geographic Explorer-in-Residence Lee Berger and team have named Homo naledi.
With at least 15 individuals of all ages and both sexes represented, the find adds an unprecedented amount of information to our understanding of early human evolution in Africa. In addition, the absence of any other animal remains or large debris in the fossil chamber strongly suggests that these non-human beings intentionally deposited their dead within this cave. The Abominable Snowman, Bigfoot, and their ilk are literally a load of bull—plus several other mammals, according to the first peer-reviewed scientific study of the shaggy, supposed humanoid creatures.
A team led by Bryan Sykes, a human geneticist at the University of Oxford, analyzed snippets of hair that people have claimed came from various rumored beings over the past 50 years. Taken in October 1967 in California, this photograph shows what former rodeo rider Roger Patterson claimed is Bigfoot. Sourced from museums and individual collections worldwide, the samples—29 out of the 30 that yielded DNA results, at any rate—revealed a curiously mixed heritage of common animals, from cattle to bears, for scientifically dubious creatures, which are known as cryptids. For the study, Sykes and colleagues compared mitochondrial DNA—or DNA passed down by mothers—from hair specimens said to come from the likes of Bigfoot and Yeti—another name for the Abominable Snowman—to those in GenBank, an international database of gene sequences covering more than 300,000 organisms. The sole study sample attributed to the ape-like Orang Pendek, meanwhile—a creature said to lurk on the Southeast Asian island of Sumatra—proved to be tapir, a large, pig-like tropical forest mammal.
Russian samples attributed to the fabled Almasty or Almas, a rumored crypto-hominid from central Asia, were actually horse hair in three cases, according to the study. Oddly, one Almasty sample tested positive for American black bear, and another for raccoon.
The one sample that did test as human—an alleged lock of Bigfoot hair from Texas—was found to be common Homo sapiens in origin. (See “Bigfoot in Texas?
In two Yeti-labeled hairs from the Himalaya—one from India, the other, Bhutan—the team recovered DNA that was a 100 percent match to DNA extracted from the jaw fossil of a prehistoric polar bear that lived more than 40,000 years ago.
This seems to confirm claims made in a 2013 British TV documentary series, the Bigfoot Files, that the closest genetic match for two Himalaya hair specimens was a prehistoric polar bear.
At the time, two scientists contacted by National Geographic said they wanted to see the evidence of a mysterious polar bear or hybrid bear stalking the Himalaya supported by a paper in a peer-reviewed journal. Rockwell confessed to being “a bit shocked and dismayed” to see that the prehistoric polar bear match was based on just 104 base pairs of mitochondrial DNA—a shortcoming that the study team itself admitted. Charlotte Lindqvist, a molecular biologist at State University of New York’s University at Buffalo, echoed those reservations. Study leader Sykes conceded that the finding is “only a preliminary result,” and that more genetic material is needed to rule out the Tibetan brown bear as the source of the Yeti legend. Sykes is involved with an upcoming Himalaya expedition that ought to solve the mystery one way or the other, he said.
Sykes said that forensic methods tested by his team now make it possible to extract DNA from often poorly preserved specimens up to 50 years old. He believes his research methods offers hope to Bigfoot hunters and cryptozoologists who have faith in the existence of such beings. Indeed, Sykes, whose own interest in the topic was first inspired by the possibility that some remnant Neanderthal or ancient human population lay behind the Yeti legend, is being recognized for his efforts by crypto-hominid believers. People assume they are primate, no reason bears didn’t do the same as the chimpanzees did.
We’re Moving!As of October 22, 2014, Weird & Wild will be hosted on National Geographic's main news site. In 1953, English biologist Francis Crick wrote a letter to his 12-year-old son Michael, describing a discovery he and his colleague had recently made. Michael Crick put that letter up for auction on April 10 with Christie’s in New York City. Half the proceeds will go to the Salk Institute for Biological Studies in San Diego, California, where Francis Crick, who died in 2008, was a professor.
Now the exciting thing is that while these are 4 different bases, we find we can only put certain pairs of them together. Now on one chain, as far as we can see, one can have the bases in any order, but if their order is fixed, then the order on the other chain is also fixed.
In other words we think we have found the basic copying mechanism by which life comes from life. I read this because of my curiousity to see how great minded people wrote personal letters lol.
I have studied structure of DNA so many times & every time i go through it, i feel so fascinated of how every thing works together inside the cell. Everyone should know Watson and Crick famously ripped off Rosalind Franklin’s discovery of the structure of DNA.
Franklin is best known for her work on the X-ray diffraction images of DNA which led to the discovery of the DNA double helix. How interesting to find another dimension to the man who helped us understand this great secret of life.


This article explains how DNA works and will give you a good understanding of DNA, as well as cloning and genetic engineering.
Without her skill as a biophysicist and X-ray crystallographer, Watson and Crick would not have had the information they needed to expound on DNA, and would probably be forgotten by now. Now a new study in the journal Molecular Biology and Evolution offers an even deeper look into the history of feathers. Scott Edwards, a Harvard ornithologist, and his colleagues couldn’t have carried out this study even a few years ago, because scientists have only recently figured out a lot of the details of how feathers develop.
Edwards and his colleagues combed the scientific literature for genes that are important for feather development. To see how far back the evolution of feather genes went, the scientists compared birds to a wide range of vertebrates, including humans, turtles, and pufferfish. About 300 million years ago, our ancestors began to lay hard-shelled eggs. Those early animals would give rise to mammals, reptiles, and birds (collectively known as amniotes, named for the amniotic egg).
It may seem strange to consider the fact that you, as a mammal, have all the known genes required to pattern a feather, and yet you do not look like Big Bird. This is an intriguing finding, because the fossil record reveals that as dinosaurs evolved into birds, their bodies shrank, while their arms got long for their size. I had to smile at the connection between the genetic diversity of birds used to tease out these effects and Darwin’s pigeons. Doug, keep in mind that Paraves includes birds but also deinonychosaurs, and the animals at the base of both groups will be virtually indistinguishable.
Either way, however, it’s clear that both groups were ancestrally miniaturized but were not necessarily flight-capable. It seems to me that Mother Nature provides very well and wisely for her children, equipping them with the potential for beneficial evolutionary modification where and when this is needed. Top picks You can sign up for The Ed’s Up—a weekly newsletter of my writing plus some of the best stuff from around the Internet. Who We ArePhenomena is a gathering of spirited science writers who take delight in the new, the strange, the beautiful and awe-inspiring details of our world. DisclaimerThe views expressed are those of the writer and are not necessarily those of the National Geographic Society. Benn-Torres shares a meal at Mariposa Gardens, a local restaurant, with her assistant, her host, and a local community member. Posters and commenters are required to observe National Geographic's community rules and other terms of service. To learn firsthand what's going on in and around this marine treasure of global importance, the National Geographic Society sent its top scientists and officials to the region in January 2016.
Robert Rockwell, a biologist and research associate at the American Museum of Natural History, remains unconvinced.
It sold for $5.3 million to an anonymous buyer who bid over the phone, according to news reports.
For example, suppose the first chain goes [points to string of letters on left], then the second must go [points to string of letters on right].
The beauty of our model is that the shape of it is such that only these pairs can go together, though they could pair up in other ways if they were floating about freely. When my son was a mere 3yr old, I tried explaining to him why he couldn’t have a doughnut every day.
Wouldn’t it have been much better to be put in a museum, for other children to see, if not yours and the future children to come in your own family? Expected this letter to be written in a form of an article or something, but was humbled to see how human he was. They’re so complex, so impressive in their adaptations, so good at getting a job done, that it can be hard at first to believe they evolved. Instead of looking at fossils, the scientists look at the genetic recipe for feathers written in the DNA of birds. Scientists have studied frizzled chickens, for example, identified the mutation for the breed’s frizzles, and thereby identified a gene essential for developing feathers. They took advantage of the fact that most switches for a gene are close to the gene itself. If they found a gene or a switch only in the DNA of birds, then they could be confident that it had evolved after the ancestors of birds split off from the ancestors of alligators and crocodiles.
They found that the instructions for making feathers got their start a long, long time before feathers themselves (see the tree at the bottom of the post or embiggen it here). Edwards and his colleagues found that the first amniotes already had the entire complement of feather patterning genes. And yet just about everything you need to make a feather, genetically speaking, was already in place. The shift made it possible for birds to generate a lot of lift with big wings, which only had to keep a small body aloft. If they’re right, the cookbook for feathers is very old, but it took the evolution of a new kind of body for birds to use their feathers to fly.
As soon as you said they included turtles, my mind leapt to whether turtles share more feather genes with archosaurs than with lepidosaurs (if that’s shown). I suspect that without the unnatural selection of genetic traits by artificial means (as demonstrated by the frizzled chicken), we might not have had enough variation to easily look at the effects of natural selection. Even basal birds, such as Confusiusornis, seemed to lack the skeletal requirements for a power stroke. All three didn’t develop flight independently because each groups nests within the other. His award-winning articles also appear frequently in National Geographic and other publications.
Phenomena is hosted by National Geographic magazine, which invites you to join the conversation. They toured the desert islands off the southeastern coast of the Baja Peninsula and they listened to presentations by more than a dozen experts, including several whose Baja California research is funded by the Society. That is, the order of the bases (the letters) makes one gene different from another gene (just as one page of print is different from another).


How nice that he was so enamored of the work he was doing, which no doubt contirbuted to the success of the project. When we were a single cell and that cell divided, the new cells were the same size as the original cell and we got bigger.
He stole the pictures to develope the model he talks about and gets credit for those pictures when some women spent years getting them and then being played. Feathers today are only found on birds, which use them to do things like fly, control their body temperature, and show off for potential mates. As I wrote in National Geographic in 2011, the fossil record has gone a very long way in helping us to understand how feathers took on the form we see today.
It turns out that a lot of that recipe already existed hundreds of millions of years before anything vaguely resembling a feather existed on Earth. But in their skin, they develop lots of tiny blobs of cells known as placodes in which cells are switching on genes in a distinctive pattern. Depending on the bird, and on the spot on the bird’s body where it grows, the feather may split into a downy plume, or into a paddle-shaped flight feather, or into an ornamental tail feather. The switches are short stretches of DNA, often nestled deep inside much longer stretches of DNA that are just gibberish. But if they found a gene or a switch in birds and alligators and crocodiles, then it must have evolved earlier, in their common ancestor. The genes that establish the basic pattern of placodes already existed in the common ancestor of living fish and birds (and us)–in other words, about half a billion years ago. Edwards and his colleagues detected many new keratin genes evolving during the origin of archosaurs, along with 86 percent of their 13,000 or so feather gene switches.
Depending on where and when they make their proteins, they can build different kinds of anatomy.
When the scientists looked for the nearest genes, they noticed that many of the genes help birds grow. I had heard that this is now the more likely place for turtles, but most texts still do not do it. And as you’re doubtlessly aware, dromaeosaurs and troodontids actually abandoned arboreality in favor of terrestriality and reverse-engineered larger body sizes. But then you say that mutations can also deactivate genes by deleting entire segments of DNA. Is this environmental stress conveyed to genes by the “concious” experience of individuals or groups, or is it directly conveyed to genes by some other mechanism? If even man possesses the same POTENTIAL to grow feathers, but has never done so up until now, this would indicate that Homo Sapiens has alternative, demonstrably better ways of keeping his body warm, attracting mates and escaping from predators. Our invention of airplanes certainly had zilch to do with whether we did or did not evolve mutations for feathers. He is the author of 13 books, including Parasite Rex and The Tangled Bank: An Introduction to Evolution. The woman at the check-out was obese, & when he looked up at me and asked, her have too many calories? In fact, you, my fine unfeathered friend, have most of the genetic information required for making feathers, too.
The reason that certain genes switch on in the placodes and others don’t is that genes have little on-off switches near them. Their list included 67 that encode variations of keratin, and 126 that help establish the pattern of feathers. They also took advantage of the fact that switches evolve relatively little, because most mutations will be harmful to them.
Even more feather genes evolved as our common ancestors climbed ashore and walked around on land 350 million years ago. But it didn’t take much rewiring of genetic switches to turn the scaly skin of early reptiles into feathers.
They’re also reptiles, but not dinosaurs, so they DID develop their powers of flight independently of birds.
And when the first airplane was constructed, Nature would have realized quite well that man did not require feathers or wings of his own for flight! Feathers started out as simple filaments, turning to fuzz, and then diversifying into a lot of different forms–including the ones that eventually let birds take to the air.
If a particular combination of proteins lands on a gene’s switch, the gene will start making a protein of its own. The cells that make up the central shaft of the feather are stiffened with certain types of keratin, for example, while cells that are in the more delicate regions of the feather produce more flexible forms of the protein from different genes.
So the scientists compared the DNA around feather genes in several different species and sought out the stretches that were noticeably similar from one species to the next. Indeed, the deep history of feathers could explain why paleontologists are finding so much evidence of simple feather-like filaments not just in dinosaurs, but in their close relatives like pterosaurs. The varanopid synapsids were basal to the Permian diapsids that ultimately evolved into archosaurs, dinosaurs and birds. So how is it that we and other modern species have the “entire” genetic toolkit of flight and feather patterning? So this letter just makes me realize how excited he was as a father, & how much he wanted to relay to his son in a manner a 12yr old could understand.
The sequence in our DNA directed our mother’s food, we received in the womb, to become new cells forming all the tissues and organs of our body. Using these two strategies, the scientists discovered a staggering 13,307 feather gene switches (technically known as conserved nonexonic elements, or CNEEs for short). I would think that at least *some* of the genes would have been deactivated by the simple random process of mutations over the course of 100 million years.
Every cell has an entire genome, which means it has all the genes for making any part of the feather.



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