biomedicalephemera:

Mus muscalis var. nudo plicatus. - “Rhinocerous mouse”
The rhinocerous mouse is a common mouse with a variant on the same gene that’s known to cause “standard” hairless mutation (without all the wrinkles). This variant has given us a lot of insight into various aspects of the skin, as the wrinkled and hairless skin is highly susceptible to skin conditions, and they have little-to-no strong bonding between the subdermal tissues and the dermis.
Modern lab mice aside, these guys are really cool on their own - especially since they were discovered in 1854! Despite the mutation causing significant health defects (such as long nails, cysts, and glandular problems, especially with the thymus), the average life-span of rhinoceros mice is still long enough to produce several litters of offspring, each bearing the same genes and of the same mutated phenotype. The naturalist John S. Gaskoin secured several individuals of this appearance, which were living wild behind the paper mills of Maidenhead Bridge, England. When the female gave birth to a litter of pups all resembling her mutation, he remarked that unlike solitary mutations seen previously (such as albino crows, born from and producing black crows), this collection of individuals was remarkable in that it clearly demonstrated the adage “like begets like”.
Bear in mind, this was before Gregor Mendel’s works on heritability were “re-discovered” in the 1880s. The theories of genetics, inheritance, and parental influence on offspring appearance, especially in mutation cases, were not understood, and the adage of “like begets like” was not necessarily thought to have anything to do with the unchangeable characteristics of the parents.
John S. Gaskoin went on in a later paper to propose that “like begets like” only applied to what something was like at infancy - since these mice were all born wrinkly and nude, they gave birth to wrinkly and nude. While still far from what we know today, it was certainly a big step forward from the common assumptions of the day - for example, if a man was buffed-up and muscular when he impregnated a woman, the offspring would automatically be more muscular because of that.
But these wild-living wrinkly nudist mice, which were so obviously Mus musculus, yet so obviously completely different from normal common mice, were one of the first solid bricks in our wall of genetic knowledge, over half a century before we even started getting a grasp on the mechanics of DNA, and what makes our offspring look the way they do.
Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London. John S. Gaskoin, 1854.

biomedicalephemera:

Mus muscalis var. nudo plicatus. - “Rhinocerous mouse”

The rhinocerous mouse is a common mouse with a variant on the same gene that’s known to cause “standard” hairless mutation (without all the wrinkles). This variant has given us a lot of insight into various aspects of the skin, as the wrinkled and hairless skin is highly susceptible to skin conditions, and they have little-to-no strong bonding between the subdermal tissues and the dermis.

Modern lab mice aside, these guys are really cool on their own - especially since they were discovered in 1854! Despite the mutation causing significant health defects (such as long nails, cysts, and glandular problems, especially with the thymus), the average life-span of rhinoceros mice is still long enough to produce several litters of offspring, each bearing the same genes and of the same mutated phenotype. The naturalist John S. Gaskoin secured several individuals of this appearance, which were living wild behind the paper mills of Maidenhead Bridge, England. When the female gave birth to a litter of pups all resembling her mutation, he remarked that unlike solitary mutations seen previously (such as albino crows, born from and producing black crows), this collection of individuals was remarkable in that it clearly demonstrated the adage “like begets like”.

Bear in mind, this was before Gregor Mendel’s works on heritability were “re-discovered” in the 1880s. The theories of genetics, inheritance, and parental influence on offspring appearance, especially in mutation cases, were not understood, and the adage of “like begets like” was not necessarily thought to have anything to do with the unchangeable characteristics of the parents.

John S. Gaskoin went on in a later paper to propose that “like begets like” only applied to what something was like at infancy - since these mice were all born wrinkly and nude, they gave birth to wrinkly and nude. While still far from what we know today, it was certainly a big step forward from the common assumptions of the day - for example, if a man was buffed-up and muscular when he impregnated a woman, the offspring would automatically be more muscular because of that.

But these wild-living wrinkly nudist mice, which were so obviously Mus musculus, yet so obviously completely different from normal common mice, were one of the first solid bricks in our wall of genetic knowledge, over half a century before we even started getting a grasp on the mechanics of DNA, and what makes our offspring look the way they do.

Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London. John S. Gaskoin, 1854.

(via scientificillustration)

scientificillustration:

“The family tree of whales, including extinct relatives. Baleen whales (top) and some pygmy sperm whales (bottom) have mutations in their tooth genes. Every orange symbol denotes a mutation; different letters represent different genes.”
How baleen whales lost a gene and their teeth

scientificillustration:

“The family tree of whales, including extinct relatives. Baleen whales (top) and some pygmy sperm whales (bottom) have mutations in their tooth genes. Every orange symbol denotes a mutation; different letters represent different genes.”

How baleen whales lost a gene and their teeth

utnereader:

Small farmers, conscious consumers, and conservationists of all  stripes are, at the very least, wary of genetically modified crops.  They’re a wild, largely untested disruptor in already-fragile ecosystems  that have gotten along just fine without any intrinsically-tinkered  species. But that hesitancy doesn’t really hold water if there’s no  ecosystem to begin with. Like on Mars, say.
Mars’ atmosphere boasts one-hundredth the density of Earth’s,  which will pose a deadly radiation threat to any life that might ever  try to inhabit it, including human colonists. According to Reason’s Tim Cavanaugh, “Any crew dispatched on the 18-to-30-month mission to  Mars will face highly elevated risks of cancer, tissue degradation, bone  density loss, brain damage, pharmaceutical spoilage, and other health  threats.”
You could argue that, of course, humans didn’t evolve alongside  the Martian landscape. But that’s just you muzzling your inner  science-fiction geek. Why let a little thing like “near-inhospitability  of a planet” crush our dreams of solar system stretching Manifest  Destiny? That, suggests Cavanaugh, is where genetic engineering comes  in.
Keep reading …

utnereader:

Small farmers, conscious consumers, and conservationists of all stripes are, at the very least, wary of genetically modified crops. They’re a wild, largely untested disruptor in already-fragile ecosystems that have gotten along just fine without any intrinsically-tinkered species. But that hesitancy doesn’t really hold water if there’s no ecosystem to begin with. Like on Mars, say.

Mars’ atmosphere boasts one-hundredth the density of Earth’s, which will pose a deadly radiation threat to any life that might ever try to inhabit it, including human colonists. According to Reason’s Tim Cavanaugh, “Any crew dispatched on the 18-to-30-month mission to Mars will face highly elevated risks of cancer, tissue degradation, bone density loss, brain damage, pharmaceutical spoilage, and other health threats.”

You could argue that, of course, humans didn’t evolve alongside the Martian landscape. But that’s just you muzzling your inner science-fiction geek. Why let a little thing like “near-inhospitability of a planet” crush our dreams of solar system stretching Manifest Destiny? That, suggests Cavanaugh, is where genetic engineering comes in.

Keep reading …