Seeing Red

Intense breeding since the 1300s has bread canaries of all colors of the rainbow. But until 1920, one color, red, remained elusive.

After crossing the canaries with the red siskin of Venezuela (and careful mating over subsequent generations, they managed to move the gene for “red” into the canaries! The canary is the first animal that was purposely genetically modified by moving genes from another species into it.

And finding the gene that caused this color shift proved equally difficult. Until now.

Read about it over at the Atlantic!

Close-up of a Red canary, Serinus canaria

Close-up of a Red canary, Serinus canaria

 

Coral Reefs Are Dying

Usually I like to keep my titles upbeat or exciting.

This post is neither. It is also (unfortunately) not an exaggeration.

93% of the Great Barrier Reef, the worlds largest coral reef, is experiencing coral bleaching this summer. Bleaching is code word for dying (not technically, it has to do with the coral polyps abandoning their exoskeleton (I think)).

Read about it over at NPR. And shed a tear for all those adorable coral polyps…

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Bones! And what they can tell us

I am a fan of the uncharismatic  (so far I’ve studied plants, snails, trematode and will soon branch to bees).

And there are few things in the world more universally charismatic than dinosaurs. Seriously, look no further than the Jurassic Park movies.

I promise that this is not the start of another AMAZING summer about dinosaurs (see last summer’s posts), but my love of the uncharismatic and my love of dinosaurs meet in this awesome comic about taphonomy! It’s the science of how bones are made into bones!

And it’s a pretty cute cartoon. Go check it out! I haven’t seen the Corkboard of Curiosities blog before, but it looks promising!

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Look, Ma! No Mitochondria

Mitocondria, the powerhouse of the cell, the most famous organelle found in all eukaryotic cells from Elephants to fungi.

That is until now.

Researchers at University of British Columbia have found the first example of any eukaryote that completely lacks mitochondria.

This is such a big deal, the wrote about it on NPR. Check it out!

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The elusive tree of life

In the Origin of Species, Darwin described a “great Tree of Life” which is “fills with its dead and broken branches the crust of the earth, and covers the surface with its ever branching and beautiful ramifications.”

Ever since then biologist have been trying to describe such a tree. And it should surprise no one that the recent focus on microbial ecology has expanded the Tree considerably.

Read about it at the New York Times or in the paper over at Nature Microbiology .

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Hug et al. 2016

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Darwin’s tree, in concept and in the only figure published in his Origin of Species.

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