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July 6, 2014 Show: Tracing Evolution Through Ape DNA and Chasing the Ebola Virus

As West Africa struggles with the largest known outbreak of Ebola, Dr. Peter Piot shares how he helped discover and describe the virus’ first known outbreak in 1976 Zaire. Also, geneticist Gil McVean studies the rates of genetic mutation in chimpanzee DNA compared to that of humans to try to determine the date of our last common ancestor.

Geography in the News: Svalbard Global Seed Vault

By Neal Lineback and Mandy Lineback Gritzner, Geography in the NewsTM Svalbard’s “Doomsday Seed Vault” The Svalbard Global Seed Vault, nicknamed the “Doomsday Seed Vault” by some, has opened its doors and is accepting seeds. The seed vault was created to preserve samples of seeds from around the world to protect the earth’s crop diversity.…

Fishing in the Gene Pool for New Species

  By Matthew Frank  One day last summer, Michael LeMoine, a Ph.D. candidate in fisheries biology at the University of Montana, carried a nondescript cardboard box into the Missoula FedEx office. Inside it was a jar of ethanol containing a single specimen of a new species of a type of fish called a sculpin. The…

Two New Snapping Turtle Species Named

The alligator snapping turtle, the biggest freshwater turtle in North America, is actually three species, a new study says.

Happy DNA Day: Genetic Results From New York City Students Reveal Microcosm of the World

Sixty-one years ago tomorrow, James Watson and Francis Crick published a landmark paper on the structure of DNA. Now, April 25 is recognized as DNA Day, a day for celebrating all that we know about genetics, including what DNA tells us about our ancient past. Today, Genographic Project scientists are collaborating with populations around the…

Could Mockingjays From “The Hunger Games” Exist One Day?

Besides fire, the overwhelming symbol of this weekend’s blockbuster movie, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, is of a steel-colored, mohawked bird with a pointed, hummingbird-like bill who trills melodiously. Mockingjays are described as a cross between mockingbirds and “jabberjays,” a species developed by the Panem government to imitate human speech and spy on the rebels.…

Ötzi the Iceman Leads a Wave of Genetics Buzz

The popularity of recent news reports on the DNA of the mummy Ötzi remind us that genetic breakthroughs are reaching far beyond white-lab-coat laboratories. Will 2013 be remembered as the year that genetics went main stream?

Europe’s Early Settlers Uncovered

Europe’s Stone Age settlers migrated in waves that replaced older hunter-gatherer cultures, suggests a study that looks at European DNA, both ancient and modern. The results reported in the journal, Science, answer questions about the peopling of modern-day Europe. Some of our ancestors hunted wild animals and gathered plants to survive, while others were discovering agriculture, and…

How to Survive 50 Million Years Without Sex

Tiny animals called rotifers have a clever survival strategy—and they’re even tough enough to live on Mars, scientists say.

Read Francis Crick’s $6 Million Letter to Son Describing DNA

Read the letter that sold at auction for just over $6 million. Francis Crick, one of three researchers awarded a Nobel Prize in 1962 for discovering the structure of DNA, wrote a letter in 1953 describing the finding to his 12-year-old son, who was away at boarding school.

For Roosters Comb Size is Big Cue for Sex

The hen with the largest comb gets a bigger dose of sperm, and thus more chicks, according to research published this week. Roosters have figured out what poultry breeders know — combs are a reliable indicator of a hen’s ability to produce more eggs.

Are your genes telling you to vote?

Today, hundreds of thousands of Americans in 10 states will turn out to vote in the so-called “Super Tuesday” elections for the US Republican primary contest.   But what brings them to the polls? Is it decision-making or DNA? A small group of political scientists are trying to find out.  The field of “genopolitics” looks at…

Gathering Beneath the Human Family Tree

Genographic Project team colleagues were up in New York’s Queens borough landmark Astoria Park Monday night for an outdoor world premiere screening of The Human Family Tree. The documentary chronicles the globe-spanning ancestry of seven Astoria residents whose cheeks were swabbed on the same day. New York City Councilman Peter Vallone, Jr., welcomed viewers to…

Lost in Paisley: A Genographic Story

In anticipation of The Human Family Tree, a new special premiering on the National Geographic Channel August 30th, the Genographic Project has invited participants to share their family migration stories. If you’ve taken part in the Genographic Project and have a story to tell about your family’s past, by all means tell it! Here’s mine:…