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'Metabolic Switch' Toggles Our Cells to Store or Burn Fat

It seems like cruel fate that some folks are naturally thin, while others have to work tirelessly to control their weight. But in the future, we may be able to level the playing field, because scientists have just discovered a ‘metabolic master switch’ that determines whether fat-producing adipocytes store or burn… » 8/22/15 3:00pm 8/22/15 3:00pm

"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