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seen Apr 12 at 19:02

I am currently working towards a PhD in microbial genetics. Before that I spent a bit over a decade working as a programmer, with most of that time spent writing computer games. I have degrees in Mathematics (MMath), Life Sciences (BSc) and Molecular Genetics (MSc).


Mar
31
comment Effect on fitness of mutations
@fileunderwater: If it's left skewed and has a central spike at an exact value it therefore will be poorly approximated by any take on the normal distribution.
Mar
28
comment How does the creative process of Biological Evolution work?
@LotusBiology: When you rock up repeating a bunch of creationist misinformation using creationist language I'm going to assume you're a creationist. Trotting out "religion of evolution" in your response doesn't make me think this is any less likely.
Mar
27
comment How does the creative process of Biological Evolution work?
Creationism is off-topic on Biology SE.
Feb
5
comment Can you answer Ray Comfort's question on Biological Evolution?
This question appears to be off-topic because it is about Creationism.
Jan
13
comment Do humans have enough biological differences to be grouped into races or subspecies?
@Herman: No, although that can also be a factor. Have a look at this image - bit.ly/1iHOMss - and note how there is no clade that includes both Africans but not the Europeans. This is because the European population is a subpopulation of the African population. The two African populations shown are as different from each other as the European population can be from the first African population. In reality, there are many more distinct African populations than shown here.
Jan
13
comment Do humans have enough biological differences to be grouped into races or subspecies?
@Herman: Evolution follows a branching, hierarchical structure (broadly, it's more complicated than that) and Europeans group within the various African populations, i.e., they're essentially a subpopulation of a particular African population.
Jan
13
comment Do humans have enough biological differences to be grouped into races or subspecies?
@Herman, from the answer to the question you link "So to sum up, DNA analysis can tell the gender, skin color, and eye color of the suspect, but very little about height and weight, and virtually nothing about age."
Jan
11
comment Do humans have enough biological differences to be grouped into races or subspecies?
It depends what you mean by race; because race isn't actually meaningful you obviously can't reconstruct it. However, given a DNA sample it is possible to make a good approximation of the appearance of the person the sample is from. I don't think such a reconstruction would be reliable enough for law enforcement purposes, but it's pretty good none-the-less.
Jan
11
comment Do humans have enough biological differences to be grouped into races or subspecies?
@terdon: The bird of paradise are not a species, as you note in your answer and I don't think it's clear - at all - that humans show relatively little phenotypic variation. I would say that humans are probably on the high side (likely due to the huge range that humans occupy).
Jan
11
comment Do humans have enough biological differences to be grouped into races or subspecies?
Hmm... I'm not sure how useful comparing natural variation (human phenotypes) to artificial variation (dogs, cats and pigs) really is. Are you humans really less phenotypically variable than wild animal species? I guess ring species might make a good comparison?
Aug
22
comment What is the difference between these worms: Caenorhabditis elegans and Eisenia fetida?
@Mys_721tx: I don't see how you can have 41 amino-acid substitutions at a single site between two homologous genes. Surely you can have at most one substitution per site on each gene?
Aug
22
comment What is the difference between these worms: Caenorhabditis elegans and Eisenia fetida?
What does "there are about 41 amino-acid substitutions per site" mean?
Aug
15
comment Why did the urinary bladder evolve?
@PaulA.Clayton: Not really. There are grades of speculation, aren't there? And we're free to disagree on what its reasonable and what is not. The rest of your points are good, I just disagree that the first in plausible.
Aug
14
comment Why did the urinary bladder evolve?
I doubt the validity of your first point; I do not see how urine could be used for scent marking until it has evolved. I think it's a case of exaptation of an existing feature for a new purpose.
Aug
9
comment Species Identification - small insect: is this a bed bug?
Can you smell almonds? Bud bugs have a distinctive smell usually described as being "like almonds".
Jul
31
comment Why isn't there a standard unit of promoter strength?
@LanceLafontaine: Extremely relevant for a particular purpose carried out in a particular way. That doesn't call for a standard measure; instead if you want to compare the effectiveness of two promoters you can simply compare them by Western Blotting or qPCR and see what you find. If you are desperate for a number, this will quantify the difference.
Jul
30
comment Why isn't there a standard unit of promoter strength?
No, it can't. Consider DUO1 in Arabidopsis: it's a gene that expresses strongly in the germline but is entirely unexpressed in somatic tissue (and, in fact, is detrimental if it is). How will expression in vitro be extrapolated then? If your in vitro model is similar to the germline you'll get results irrelevant to any other cell; if your results are relevant to the somatic tissue you'll fail to understand key processes in the germline. The major issue in gene expression is its variation.
Jul
29
comment Could humans and chimpanzees hybridize?
Yes, Genetic evidence for complex speciation of humans and chimpanzees - that's from Nature so it's paywalled. Looking into it a bit though, I see that there's some later publications that have disputed the claims made in that paper so I'll leave you to judge the merits of the arguments.
Jul
28
comment Why isn't a virus “alive”?
@nico: I've updated my answer with a couple of links.
Jul
27
comment Why isn't a virus “alive”?
@nico: You said that a cell is a some point just DNA. This is false; it is never just DNA.