The Loom

Archives for October, 2004

More on Common Ancestors

A lot of readers have commented on my recent post about a study that suggests we all share a common ancestor who lived 2,300 years ago. Some people doubted that isolated groups could share such a recent ancestry. One of the study’s authors, Steve Olson (also the author of the book Mapping Human History) sent…

Biting the Dust

In March, I wrote a post on some tantalizing new findings about the secrets of human evolution lurking in our genome. In brief, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania studied a gene called MYH16 that helps build jaw muscles in primates. In our own lineage, the gene has mutated and is no longer active in…

If These Lice Could Talk

Contempt is never wise in biology. The creature that you look down on as lowly, degenerate, or disgusting may actually turn out to be sophisticated, successful, and–in some cases–waiting to tell you a lot about yourself. That’s certainly the case for lice. The human body louse, Pediculus humanus, has two ways of making a living–either…

Nobel and Darwin

Congratulations to Linda Buck and Richard Axel for winning the Nobel Prize for Medicine today. They won for their pioneering work on the 600 or so receptors that we use to smell. As is so often the case these days, the research that wins people the Nobel for Medicine also reveals a lot about our…