Sunday, March 16, 2008
I love being a biologist, even if I do more teaching of biology than actually doing biology these days. Call me if I can clarify that last sentence. At any rate, biology is easy to make fun for my students because there is no shortage of fascinating and weird stuff to bring in to the classroom (figuratively). I was just goofing off online and came across a paper, summarized at anthropology.net, that found a single mutation that caused a family to have a host of strange symptoms including shrinkage in certain brain parts and most interestingly, the inability to walk bipedally (on 2 feet). These folks walk on all fours (with palms down in a plantigrade fashion, as we nerds call it rather than on fingers, or digitigrade). Actually, there are 2 families that have these symptoms and researchers found two simple mutations that are the cause. Each family has a different mutation, both of which are simple single base pair mutations. This will make my discussions of mutations much more fun this week...at least for me.