"Virgin Births" Won't Save The Smalltooth Sawfish From Extinction

The critically endangered smalltooth sawfish was recently found to be capable of asexual reproduction. It’s an exciting discovery for many reasons, but breathless claims by the media that sawfish could save their species from extinction by resorting to virgin births are wrong, wrong, wrong. Let’s explore why. » 6/18/15 7:10pm 6/18/15 7:10pm

Scientists Hope Tiny Asexual Animals Can Teach Us Why Sex Works

Sex is how most animals reproduce, so you might wonder why some scientists are using a tiny asexual animal to study it. In an article published last winter at Quanta, Emily Singer explains that the way bdelloid rotifers manage their genes has scientists asking what the term “sex” really means. » 5/29/15 11:41am 5/29/15 11:41am

Don't Get Too Excited If a DNA Test Says You Have Royal Ancestors

People love finding out that they have a famous relative, or they’re descended from royalty. Thanks to genetic testing services like 23AndMe, it’s easy to send your spit away and get a rundown of your potentially regal DNA. But being related to long-ago kings doesn’t make us special—it just makes us human. » 5/25/15 10:00am 5/25/15 10:00am

What Made the Y Chromosome So Tiny?

The Y chromosome, a chunk of genetic code that is unique to male mammals, isn’t just physically smaller than the X. It also contains far fewer genes. The X has more than 1000 genes, while the Y has fewer than 200 —and most of them don’t even work. Why do men have this odd, stunted chromosome in their genomes? » 5/07/15 6:25pm 5/07/15 6:25pm

Iceland Has Become the Perfect Genetics Experiment 

A millenium ago, a group settled in Iceland and have stayed there ever since, with few people coming and going. And so their DNA has stayed remarkably homogenous. That's a major boon for genetics researchers, who today have released the results of sequencing the complete genomes of 2,636 Icelanders—the largest such… » 3/25/15 5:25pm 3/25/15 5:25pm

This Video Is the Best Explanation Yet of How Genomes Really Work


There are 20,000 genes in the human genome, but only a small fraction of them are active in any given cell. This video from Nature explains with beautiful clarity the system that activity, turning genes on and off. It's called the epigenome, and it's incredibly important. Now you can understand how it works, too. » 2/19/15 4:00pm 2/19/15 4:00pm

How Do I Look in These Genes? The Science of DNA Dating

That sensation you feel when you meet someone you like—that visceral pull towards another human being—there's biology behind that. And if there's biology behind that, it can be measured, and controlled for, and used to help determine if two people will be attracted to each other before they ever even meet in person. » 2/09/15 11:30am 2/09/15 11:30am

80% Of Americans Support Mandatory Labels On Foods Containing DNA. DNA!

A recent survey conducted by the Oklahoma State University Department of Agricultural Economics found that 80.44% of respondents supported a government policy mandating labels on foods containing DNA. Not GMOs. DNA, the genetic material contained in every living thing known to science and practically every food,… » 1/18/15 2:18pm 1/18/15 2:18pm

Of Course 23andMe's Plan Has Been to Sell Your Genetic Data All Along

Today, 23andMe announced what Forbes reports is only the first of ten deals with big biotech companies: Genentech will pay up to $60 million for access to 23andMe's data to study Parkinson's. You think 23andMe was about selling fun DNA spit tests for $99 a pop? Nope, it's been about selling your data all along. » 1/06/15 3:35pm 1/06/15 3:35pm

How a New DNA Test Can Distinguish Between Identical Twins 

Ever since police started using DNA tests, one particular loophole has captivated our imagination: How do you distinguish between identical twins who share DNA? But it turns out even identical twins have tiny differences in their DNA, and prosecutors in Massachusetts want to use a new test for identical twins in court… » 12/04/14 7:30pm 12/04/14 7:30pm