by Rebecca Silberman figures by Aparna Nathan Seen through the harsh, unsentimental lens of evolutionary biology, menopause doesn’t make sense. Why don’t women live like giraffes, like tarantulas, like pigeons, reproducing throughout their lives in order to maximize each person’s “fitness,” or reproductive success? Even in other long-lived, social species like elephants, females don’t stop having children before the end of their lives, and while … Continue reading An Evolutionary Argument for why Grandmas Rule
Let’s consider a paradox of probabilities. If all cells have the same risk of becoming cancerous, then the likelihood of developing cancer is proportional to the number of cells in an animal. This argument generally holds true for the incidence of cancer and body size for individuals within a given species. However, when comparing across different animal species, there is no constant proportionality between body … Continue reading Zombie genes help eradicate elephant cancer in early stages
The Church lab at Harvard University recently announced plans to create a hybrid mammoth and elephant. Using a technology called CRISPR, researchers in the Church lab have learned how to insert mammoth DNA into the cells of modern elephants. Theoretically, this could set the stage for developing an embryo with DNA from both a modern elephant and the woolly mammoth. The group would like to … Continue reading Could Woolly Mammoths Walk Again?
by Caitlin Nichols figures by Krissy Lyon We’ve all heard the saying that quality is more important than quantity. The preference for quality over quantity applies in the human body as well. Cancer, for instance, is caused by malfunctioning cells that grow and divide uncontrollably, creating life-threatening health challenges for patients . It’s easy to see that in the case of cancer, an individual should … Continue reading The Elephant in the Room: Gene Copy Number and Cancer