News & Views
Are You a Mutant?
Jul 31 2015 Read 3152 Times
Think of the word ‘mutant’ and our guess is that you’ll immediately conjure up images of X-men, aliens and other distorted beings. While this may be Hollywood’s interpretation, the reality is that mutants walk among us on a daily basis. And you could be one of them! While all humans share around 99.9% of the same genes, that .01% makes all the difference. Humans are an incredibly varied species, and genetic mutation plays an integral role in making people unique. As humankind has evolved some mutations have become so common that they’re now considered normal. The scientific community refers to these as ‘polymorph’ mutations. So are you a mutant? Read on as we take a look at six common polymorphs.
While some eyes are coloured in blocks of blue, brown and green others are speckled with an array of different colours. This pretty effect is all thanks to the heterochromia iridum mutation, also referred to as “a very groovy mutation” by X Men’s Professor X.
Dual layer eyelashes
Ever wondered why Elizabeth Taylor’s eyes are so enchanting? It’s largely down to her gorgeous double eyelashes, also known as a mutation called distichiasis. The lovely long lash look occurs when the 16th chromosome encounters a transcription error.
Flaming red locks
Red hair is a recessive trait and occurs when an individual is born with two variant copies of the MC1R gene on the 16th chromosome.
Yes, freckles are mutations! When skin cells produce melanocyte pigments tiny parts of the complexion start to darken when exposed to UV light. There are two types - eumelanin and pheomelanin.
This is one of the biggest polymorphs on the planet however 10,000 years ago they were an extreme rarity. Blue eyed gals and guys have a gene called OCA2 that limits the body’s ability to produce melanin in the iris. When this happens there’s no melanin to darken the eyes which leaves them blue.
When the two halves of the jawbone fail to fuse humans are left with a cleft chin. It’s not necessarily a bad thing, with hunks such as Patrick Stewart, Kirk Douglas and Aaron Eckhart all flaunting one.
No wisdom teeth
This is quite possibly one of the most beneficial mutations that 35% of the population are lucky enough to have. The mutation is rumoured to have first emerged in china around four hundred thousand years ago.
Want to know more about DNA? ‘Conformations of DNA Hairpin Loops under Crowded Conditions’ analyses how using UV Vis absorption spectroscopy on a SPECORD® PLUS allows scientists to monitor the conformation of various ssDNA hairpin loops in crowded fluids that mimic intracellular conditions.
Images sourced via Flickr Creative Commons. Credits: Look Into My Eyes
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