Marine mammals and the legacy of gene loss: evolutionary biology informs policy

Life began in the water.  Microbes swarmed around in primordial ooze, banded together to form multicellular organisms, and eventually grew complex enough to leave their watery homes and become the terrestrial animals that exist today.  Some of those land-dwelling creatures became mammals, and in a surprising twist, three separate lineages of ancient mammals then returned … Continue reading Marine mammals and the legacy of gene loss: evolutionary biology informs policy

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Strength in numbers: extra copies of the TP53 gene helps elephants fight cancer

Today’s story begins with Peto’s paradox – the observation that larger animals should have higher cancer incidence than smaller animals, but don’t (1).  Fundamentally, cancer is caused by DNA damage.  Large animals have many cells and usually also have long lifespans.  As a result, their numerous cells duplicate many times and are exposed to a … Continue reading Strength in numbers: extra copies of the TP53 gene helps elephants fight cancer