genetic patterns

Is Star Trek: Discovery’s Michael Burnham part Vulcan?

The recently released trailer strongly implies that Sonequa Martin-Green’s character, Michael Burnham, has ties to Vulcan, but to what extent? Is she a human who spent part of her childhood on Vulcan, or does she actually have Vulcan DNA?

Most people will be quick to claim, “But she doesn’t have pointed ears!” And that’s true. They are quite rounded, as you can see.  

Spock’s ears were pointed after all, right? Spock was a human/Vulcan hybrid and for all intents and purposes, was frequently described as having Vulcan physiology. But that’s not the end of the story. When discussing Spock’s blood in the TOS episode “Journey to Babel,” Nurse Chapel points out, “It isn’t true Vulcan blood either. It has human blood elements in it.” 

So there really are some human elements lurking within Spock. To use genetics terminology, genotypically (DNA wise) he’s half human, but phenotypically (appearance wise), he looks Vulcan. Most of us learned Mendelian genetics in high school biology where we did fun Punnett squares and learned things like brown eyes are dominant to blue eyes and black hair is dominant to blond hair. Using these rules, we might assume that a Vulcan’s pointed ears are dominant to a human’s rounded ears and call it that, but the truth is, very few traits are actually inherited by the patterns we learned in 10th grade science class. 

At this point I should probably backtrack and explain all the reasons why a naturally-occurring Vulcan/human hybrid just doesn’t make any sense.  Whether or not two species can interbreed depends on quite a few factors like chromosome number and genetic similarity. Humans have 23 pairs of chromosomes for a total of 46 – one from mom and one from dad – and we have genes in predictable locations so that when the genetic material combines, we essentially shuffle our DNA for the next generation without scrambling it into nonsense. In order for hybrids to occur, ideally they should have the same number of chromosomes and genes in similar locations. Chromosome number isn’t actually a game changer though.

Mules are made from the crossbreeding of a female horse (which has 64 chromosomes) and a male donkey (which has 62 chromosomes). When sperm and egg combine the result is a mule with 63 chromosomes, which unfortunately renders mules sterile due to the odd chromosome. While horses and donkeys are different species, from a genetic perspective, they’re remarkably similar. 

This guy will never know the love of his own children, poor bastard. 

This obviously isn’t true for humans and Vulcans. They might look relatively similar on the outside, but just look at what canon tells us about Vulcan physiology: a three-chambered heart located where the liver should be, a midbrain capable of telepathy, and copper based blood don’t exactly make Vulcans right next to chimpanzees as our evolutionary cousins. (And that blood should actually be blue based on the oxidation state of copper in hemocyanin but I’m already getting into the scientific weeds here.)

So for Vulcans and humans to even have babies in the first place is a remarkable feat of genetic engineering that wouldn’t even be remotely possible with modern technology, but it’s Star Trek, right? It’s sci-fi and it’s the future and we’ve got to suspend some belief. Check. But that doesn’t mean we can’t use what we do know about genetics and speculate about patterns of inheritance between humans and Vulcans.

Firstly, Spock isn’t the only example of offspring between humans and Vulcanoid species. Sure, Romulans may be considered a separate species from Vulcans, but on a genetic timescale, the split seems to be very recent (much like we see with wolves and dogs) and there’s no reason to think they couldn’t easily interbreed with one another. So for all intents and purposes, we might consider a cross between a human and Romulan to be quite similar to a human and Vulcan. Canon offers us at least two examples of human-Romulan hybrids: Sela, the daughter of Tasha Yar and her Romulan captor, and Simon Tarses, a Starfleet crewman who was one-quarter Romulan but tried to pass his slightly pointy ears off as a Vulcan throwback.  

I wonder how much they had to pay Denise Crosby to wear that wig?

If we were sticking to what we learned about genetics in high school biology, we would expect Sela to have inherited her father’s dark hair rather than her mother’s light hair. Think about it: aside from Sela, when was the last time anyone saw a blonde Romulan? But it would appear that genes for hair color in hybrids seem to be playing by a different set of rules than what we would predict in humans. So coming back to the ears, both of these individuals lend weight to the theory that pointed ears do predominate in Vulcanoid hybrids, but… Crewman Tarses’ ears are less pointed, suggesting pointed ears might be an example of something called polygenic inheritance. It’s a pretty simple concept, actually. Mendelian genetics taught us that things exist in binary, either yes or no, this or that, brown eyes or blue eyes, but as I’ve already explained, so few traits actually work that way. One of the most obvious examples in humans comes from skin color.

Have a dose of melanin. It’s gorgeous!

There’s no one “skin color” gene. Scientists have actually identified at least eight genes that contribute to skin color that can interact with one another in various ways to produce a spectrum. Most people recognize that biracial children often end up with a skin tone somewhere in between their parents; this complex chart shows how eight different genes for one trait can lend to incredibly beautiful and diverse variation. It also demonstrates how people who end up on Maury because they swear they could never father a dark-skinned baby are scientifically illiterate turds. This graphic is an approximation, but you can see how it is uncommon but entirely possible for two people with intermediate pigmentation to have a very light-skinned or a very dark-skinned child, depending on the roll of the genetic dice.

Based on Crewman Tarses’ slightly pointed ears, it’s easy to imagine that ear “pointiness” (a very scientific term) might fall along similar patterns of inheritance if it can be diluted over generations rather than simply being present or absent. So could Michael Burnham have Vulcan ancestry and round ears? Once the biologist in me ignores the sheer madness of a Vulcan/human hybrid in the first place, I’m willing to say yes.    

Now let’s have a lookie-loo at Michael Burnham’s eyebrows. 

Tweezed to perfection

I’m willing to believe that could be the result of Vulcan DNA rather than a fashion choice. 

Lastly, there’s this very brief scene in the trailer that implies that this woman and this child are the same person. Tell me that isn’t the Vulcanest haircut you ever saw? 

Seriously, it looks like the Beatles threw up all over her head. 

Sure, she could just be a human who has accepted Surak’s teachings at some point in her life, right down to the shellac-styled hair, but I think it’s clear that whether or not Michael Burnham is descended from Vulcans, she at least spent a chunk of her childhood in their company. So while the canon is still out on whether she actually harbors any Vulcan DNA, but I don’t think it should be ruled out strictly based on the shape of her ears. 

Many other animals have feelings. What distinguishes our species is thought. The cerebral cortex is a liberation. We need no longer be trapped in the genetically inherited behavior patterns of lizards and baboons. We are, each of us, largely responsible for what gets put into our brains, for what, as adults, we wind up caring for and knowing about. No longer at the mercy of the reptile brain, we can change ourselves.
—  Carl Sagan, Cosmos

dreamcatchersdaughter  asked:

Winteriron soulmate wing fic AU where your soulmate has inverted wings to you and your first words to each-other are written on the inside of your wings? Like if Tony has primary gold and trim red, Bucky's would be primarily red with gold? (they don't have to be those colors that's just my example)

I’m not sure how this is going to turn out because, to be perfectly honest, I really struggle with soulmate AUs. It’s not an idea that resonates easily with me, but I kind of wanted to try as a personal challenge to myself. I’m also twisting some of this a bit in terms of what indicates a match. This is gonna have a lot of gratuitous talk about my thoughts on destiny and I am so sorry and you should just not read it.

Tony never did have the patience for philosophy. Well, not philosophy for philosophy’s sake anyway. As it applied to science? As it applied to morality? Important shit. People needed to think about the implications of what they did not only as it related to the present, but also as it related to those who would follow, those whose lives would be dictated by present-day choices. He liked that kind of thinking. It was where his brain functioned best.

But all the, all the fluff? Waste of time. He remembered the first time he told Steve he’d never put much stock in amorphous concepts like “soul” and “destiny” and the shock on Steve’s face.

“But, but you’ve…what about the patterning?”


“You stock it all up to strands of DNA?”

Keep reading


That feel when u realize u’ve completely designed and characterized a child for two characters who’ve barely been dating for six months and are practically children themselves. AnyWA Y

yknow how writists always talk abt how they Research Everything and thts why they dont write a lot, bc theyre like “hold on the immersion will be ruined if i get the wrong 50′s era diner in washington”…

does anyone else get that for art? there are so many times where ill research the history of horse domestication or rabbit fur patterns because if im so worried some fuckin Horse Expert is gonna come at me for getting a detail wrong.

Betta tail types breakdown

Let me just start with saying I don’t breed betta and am not super knowledgeable on the genetics of them at a bio level, so most information in that regard will be researched from other sources and condensed based on my understanding. I do however know many of the types and have seen common correlations associated with certain traits. This will be a guide on the different tail types and future ones will be made on coloring and patterns. If you ave any points to add based on your own personal experinces send them my way and I’ll add them.

Keep reading


Stopped in for a quick chat with Vetra. She’s coming to terms with the fact that Sid is growing up and wanting to go her own way, and she’s better off having Vetra’s support than Vetra trying to protect her from everything. Robin encouraged this. It is a good.

Also Vetra mentioned, in passing, that Sid arranged for CAT GENETIC PATTERNS to be pulled out of cryo and I just approve of the idea of the nexus having cats running all round on it. That is all.

Merfolk: Culture and Society Worldbuilding

tagging darthrevaan, because it’s basically an extension of the various merfolk worldbuilding posts that we’ve exchanged. 

It’s a pretty safe assumption that the various individuals who drowned and became merfolk were shoved overboard in different parts of the ocean. Which leads to the question - how do individual mers meet up and form pods? How do the mer communities come to be?

Because the ocean is a very big place, and there’s no guarantee that they would be able to find another mer. Let alone know where to start looking; even if various parts of the sea (the Caribbean, for instance) are known to be mermaid haunts, how are they supposed to navigate there from, for instance, the middle of the Atlantic?

Two - possibly three, if we count handwavium - possibilities come to mind. (Keep in mind that I’m making this up as I go and am not really an expert in the sciences that I’ll be citing).

The first is, quite simply, magic. AKA handwavium. Mers could just happen to run into other mers more often then is statistically likely; the transformation process they undergo could endow them with the tendency to just - know where other mers are, or something similar.

The next possibility that comes to mind is the existence of various senses that humans have no analogue for. It’s scientific fact that various species - such as sharks and stingrays - are capable of sensing the magnetic fields of the earth. If a mer’s given a built-in compass, after a while floundering around in the middle of the ocean, they might just follow it for lack of any other ideas. That might eventually lead them into the path of currents that sweep them into a mer community, which are built up specifically because that’s where most ‘new’ mers come to rest. Hydrodynamic reception, long-distance innate olfactory recognition - they could all be very useful in helping mers locate one another.

Which contributes to my last idea - migratory patterns. I see mers as facultative migrators, meaning that they can choose to migrate or not. Mers, once drowned, might have a built-in migratory urge, facilitated by the various sensory abilities referenced above. As I understand it, there’s been some debate as to whether or not certain migratory destinations (as observed in monarch butterflies) are at least partially the result of some kind of ‘genetic memory’. Mers could undergo something similar.

…basically, I think that in this fiction mer universe, it’s a result of all three. A magically-induced genetically-set migratory pattern, complete with extra senses to help them navigate, might be one of the primary explanations for how mers actually manage to interact socially with one another.

anonymous asked:

do you think redtail could be a chimera?

um prob not bc actual chimeras are really really rare in cats and can only be confirmed by genetic testing, its more likely that the erins didn’t realize that male torties are pretty rare (and usually fertile)

a better sign of a chimera would be a black & blue tortie (when they should be either black/red or blue/cream) or a cat who has conflicting patterns

Seeking SciNote, Biology: CRISPR


What do geneticists think will be possible when the the new gene-splicing CRISPR is fully operational on patients?


For those of us unfamiliar, CRISPR is a revolutionary new genetic splicing technology. Gene splicing refers to modifications to a gene transcript that can result in different proteins being made from a single gene. Interestingly, CRISPR’s inception began when dairy scientists discovered that bacteria used to create yogurt (by transforming lactose into lactic acid) had incorporated snippets of benign viruses into its genome. To their surprise, the incorporated DNA would create toxic agents to thwart infective viruses. In 2007, dairy scientists realized that they could effectively fortify bacteria by adding spacer DNA, which does not code for any protein sequence, from a virus. Then, five years later, as Time Magazine writer Alice Park skilfully describes, professors Jennifer Doudna and Emanuelle Charpentier noticed “up to 40% of bacteria developed a particular genetic pattern in their genomes. What they found were sequences of genes immediately followed by the same sequence in reverse, known as palindromic sequences. Further, bits of random DNA bases cropped up after each such pairing and right before the next one. After the dairy bacteria transcribed its spacer DNA and palindromic sequence into RNA, it self-spliced those segments into shorter fragments, with an enzyme called CAS9”. As you may be wondering, CRISPR stands for “clustered regularly interspaced short palindromic repeats”.

It is important for us to emphasize the versatility of this method. In the 2007 article, Doudna and Charpentier go into depth regarding the many benefits of the new genetic technology. These include the potential to “systematically analyze gene functions in mammalian cells, study genomic rearrangements and the progression of cancers or other diseases, and potentially correct genetic mutations responsible for inherited disorders”. As you might imagine, this opens up possibilities that were previously science fiction. Currently, painful blood transfusions are commonplace in the treatment of many diseases such as sickle cell anemia. Sickle cell affects red blood cells, which are made by stem cells in bone marrow. Soon, Massachusetts Institute of Technology synthetic biologist Feng Zhang envisions that this will soon no longer be necessary. She predicts that after doctors extract some of the marrow, scientists will splice out the defective fragment of DNA using CRISPR from the removed stem cells, then bathe the cells in a solution containing the non-sickle-cell sequence. As the DNA repairs itself naturally, it picks up the correct sequence and incorporates it into the stem cell genomes. After this one-time procedure, the stem cells would give rise to more red blood cells with the healthy gene. Eventually, the blood system would be repopulated with normal cells.

The treatment of HIV using CRISPR would be very similar. In this potential treatment, “patients would provide a sample of blood stem cells from their bone marrow, which would be treated with CRISPR to remove the CCR5 gene, and these cells would be transplanted back to the patient. Since the bone marrow stem cells populate the entire blood and immune system, the patient would eventually have blood cells that were protected, or “immunized,” against HIV”.

Despite this extraordinary potential, no biological technology comes without serious ethical concerns. As Jennifer Douda says herself, CRISPR “really requires us to careful thought to how we employ such a tool: What are we trying to do with it, what are the appropriate applications, how can we use it safely?”

Check out her book The Stem Cell Hope for learning about the future of stem cell technology.

Park, Alice. “A New Gene-Splicing Technique.” 100 New Scientific Discoveries: Fascinating, Unbelievable and Mind-expanding Stories. New York, NY: TIME, 2014. 92-95. Print.

Park, Alice. “It May Be Possible To Prevent HIV Even Without a Vaccine.” Time. Time, 6 Nov. 2014. Web.

Doudna, Jennifer A., and Charpentier, Emmanuelle (2014). The new frontier of genome engineering with CRISPR-Cas9. Science, 346(6213), 1258096–1258096. doi:10.1126/science.1258096

Answered by: Teodora S., Expert Leader and Expert John M.

Edited by: Carrie K.

Ancient DNA Tells Us Much About Modern Basque's Once-Unknown Origins

The Basques have unique customs and a language - Euskera - that is unrelated to any other spoken in Europe, or indeed the world. Nestled in a mountainous corner of Atlantic Europe, they also show distinct genetic patterns to their neighbours in France and Spain. But their origins have remained an elusive mystery for as long as anthropologists and linguists have been studying the Basque and their Euskera.  Mattias Jakobsson from Uppsala University in Sweden analysed the genomes of eight Stone Age human skeletons from El Portalón in Atapuerca, northern Spain. These individuals lived between 3,500 and 5,500 years ago, after the transition to farming in southwest Europe. The results show that these early Iberian farmers are the closest ancestors to present-day Basques. Jokobsson’s results suggest that the modern Basque are likely descendants of early farmers, possibly mixed with local hunter-gatherers and using their language, who then became isolated for millennia. Read the full BBC article here


I had to actually do some research for this one - this is the cross between a wild type drosophila and one with dichaete type wings. I found this cross particularly interesting because in most crosses we expect the phenotypes of the parents to be produced by homozygous genotypes. However, the resulting cross between a dichaete and a wild type fly produces a 1:1 ratio of the aforementioned phenotypes (no sex-link), and the F2 generation is the same. It didn’t seem to follow the basic dominant-recessive pattern, and it turned out that the genotype for a dichaete-winged fly is heterozygous (pictured “DW” above), and the homozygous DD trait is lethal. The cross between the WW and DW results each time in a 1:1 ratio.


New Research Gives Insight Into the Long-Puzzling Question of Scorpion Tail Development.

A new study led by scientists at the American Museum of Natural History reveals the genetic blueprint behind the patterning of scorpion tails. Scientists have long been puzzled by the development of scorpion tails—which in addition to venom-producing glands also have light-sensing capabilities—because there weren’t enough known genes to code for their many segments. But the new research, which was published today in Proceedings of The Royal Society B, reveals that scorpions have more “body-planning” genes than previously thought, potentially solving the scorpion tail mystery.

“Scorpions have six segment-types in the back-end of their body, almost double the number seen in their closest relatives. They also are the only arthropods to have a group of segments exclusively dedicated to prey capture and defense,” says Prashant Sharma, a postdoctoral researcher in the Museum’s Division of Invertebrate Zoology and lead author of the paper. “The question is how to pattern this kind of complexity.“ 

Read more on the Museum blog.

  • Jay Smooth: We create art just like we create life, by combining my genetic pattern with yours to make a new pattern.
  • Shepard Fairey: The more people that are contributing to the creation of culture, the richer the dialogue is, the better it is.
  • Jay Smooth: Art cannot grow in a vacuum. It can only bloom in an ecosystem of other ideas to draw from.
  • - "HitRecord on TV," S01E08

rogersking  asked:

I'm a bearded dragon owner who just read your blog post and have the following questions: is it possible to determine the percentage of Neanderthal of any given modern human, based on DNA testing; and what would you hypothesize to be the statistical maximum and minimum range when collecting data from a sample population, say Bloomington's? Eugenically, if I am about 10 percent more Neanderthal than you, would it predetermine my career path away from anything academic, for example?

Ok so numero uno: eugenics is bullshit pseudoscience based on beliefs put forth in Europe and America to justify systems of systematic oppression like racism, classism, and ableism.  A person’s genetic origin has nothing to do with a person’s ability! No Neanderthal DNA is going to make one person any better at anything than anyone else.

That out of the way: Yup, it is possible to determine the percentage of Neanderthal DNA in any given modern human. It’s relatively accurate, too- moreso than ancestry assessments (because human genetic diversity is often so subtle). Basically, Neanderthals as a population/subspecies had been separated from Homo sapiens sapiens for 400,000 years or more- and they had a relatively smaller population size due to their geographic limitations. So Neanderthal DNA is assessed by looking at changes that show up in both lineages- their patterns of genetic variation created by genetic drift are very different than comparable human patterns. So when you’re assessing the overlap between human and Neanderthal DNA in a person, what you look for is these Neanderthal-specific differences that we don’t see in ancient human populations. These patterns can only show up with Neanderthal admixture. Because we’ve got complete genomes for Neanderthals, ancient humans, and modern humans, we can actually see that about a fifth of the Neanderthal genome has been preserved in modern humans. However, we’re not going to see any modern humans with 20% Neanderthal DNA; the maximum is going to be less than 5%. This isn’t an entire picture, however, due to the fact that DNA testing doesn’t actually sequence all of your DNA. Instead, DNA testing sequences small segments with known mutation rates and known patterns of origin and the ancestry is estimated from there.

As far as hypothesizing a statistical min/max, that’d be really difficult to do thanks to modern admixture. It might be kinda doable in areas where most people are from a particular regional background, but if you’re talking about Bloomington, Indiana, where IU is- that’d be really difficult because the population isn’t permanent and is super diverse due to the campus. If you’re talking about Bloomington, IL, which is going to be more ethnically homogenous town, you’d find that most peoples’ supposed genetic backgrounds are different than what they expect. Family history and genetics don’t always go hand in hand!

sunjournal944-blog  asked:

Saw a theory that Alannys Greyjoy "going mad" is actually brain damage following a failed suicide attempt in her severe depression over Theon being taken hostage in Winterfell. Yay or nay on that?

I’ll answer the question with another question, one that can apply to a great many theories, especially, it seems, of recent vintage. But it’ll take some work to get there. Giddyup:

For starters, if she tried to commit suicide and failed, that means that suicide is being covered up. And that doesn’t square with the characters’ personalities. Do the Greyjoys strike you as circumspect with regards to privacy, or understanding of human frailty? This isn’t some WASP family covering up their 19-year-old daughter’s stay in the psych ward by saying she’s spending the semester in Prague — these are the goddamn Ironborn. Why would they cover up a suicide attempt?

Moreover, it doesn’t square with how the books have treated suicide, real and rumored. The most obvious example is Ashara Dayne, whose suicide is the stuff of legend. In fact, with a couple of obvious exceptions (Jon’s parentage, Theon’s penis) the books invariably have some character or other give voice to whispered pain.

What’s more, people are driven mad with grief all the time in the world of Ice and Fire. It happens in the real world too, but like genetically determined hair color patterns and the melting temperature of gold, it’s a little easier to come by in George R.R. Martin’s imagination — a core staple of his emotional vocabulary. Catelyn Stark is driven mad with grief in the moments before she’s murdered. Dip back into “The Princess and the Queen” and you’ve got Queen Helena. I think a reasonably persuasive argument could be made for Daenerys! That’s just off the top of my head. All of these people lose touch with reality without suicide-induced brain damage.

Now, keep in mind that over the course of this series, in addition to characters from other lands who may have heard the story of whatever happened to Alannys, we have POV chapters from four members of her family: Theon, Asha, the Damphair, and Victarion. That’s more POV characters per family than any except House Stark! 

So let’s put it all together. To believe Alannys Greyjoy’s madness is the result of a secret suicide attempt that only the very most cleverest of readers can suss out,  we’d have to believe…

* that this “mad with grief” alone has a secret cause Martin’s hiding;

* that multiple Greyjoy POV characters are in the dark about it;

* as is every other POV character;

* OR that some of the Greyjoys know and are hiding it deep within their black, gross hearts, despite their many differences in personality;

* and despite their culture-wide bad bedside manner w/r/t suffering; 

* and MOST IMPORTANTLY OF ALL, that in making this a secret, Martin had some larger goal beyond “ooh it’s a secret, maybe some redditors or Westeros forum denizens or tumblrites will play Where’s Waldo with it.”

THAT’S the most important thing, for serious. Why would Martin choose to make this a secret? What does it communicate about the world, about the characters? How does it help articulate his themes? In what way does it further the narrative, or enrich the narrative, or complicate the narrative, or subvert the narrative? Is it even cool, or is it just a parlor trick?

In short, why the fuck does this need to be a secret that requires a theory to unravel, when it could be exactly what it fucking says it is instead?

In all likelihood I’m getting “BENEATH THE GOLD, THE BITTER STEEL” tattooed on my person at some point, but if I have room left over, I’m getting that in permanent ink, and I suggest every ASoIaF buff do the same.

for the anon.
Send me “Will you marry me?” and I’ll generate a number from 1-30, then your preferred ship.

13. “I don’t have to take your surname, do I?” + rivamika

“Will you marry me?”

This gets her attention from the stupid laptop. He stands as still as a rock against the doorjamb as she turns her head at him in such a ridiculously slow manner that he rolls his eyes at her, and flat-out sighs as he crosses his arms.

“If I knew earlier that that was all it takes to get your attention, then maybe I should have thought about it sooner.” he jokes, but he doesn’t understand the glassy look to her eyes when she finally looks at him, with a slight sheen of confusion making her look like a fish out of water. “Hey, say something.”

“I don’t have to take your surname, do I?”

This makes him rise an eyebrow out of confusion as he approaches her. Frankly, this is not how he imagined how he would propose to her.

“What makes you say that?”

She rolls her eyes this time.

“We literally share the same surname. What makes you question why I asked you that?”

Oh, right. They do share the same surname. Without ever knowing why it so coincidental, for being such a coincidence. Medical records show no signs of sharing the same blood or genetic pattern. The only explanation there is, is that there are other people in the general human population that shares the same name. It was just pure coincidence.

Mikasa Ackerman.

Levi Ackerman.

Big deal. Being “Mr. & Mrs. Ackerman” was a bigger one to deal with.

He grabs her hand and inserts the ring he’s carefully hidden from her from the past few months into her finger, and silently contemplates about their next step from the appreciative smile to her lips when he caresses her cheek. “Unless you want to be known as ‘Mikasa Ackerman Ackerman’ then by all means, go ahead.”