Category Genetics

Shrink Agents

It’s not easy for an individual human being, nor for the human species in general, to embrace the radical change implied in an existence as a smaller being. Growth, it seems, is the rhythm of life. But not for all life. Fortunately there are species of animals and plants that go against the tide and [...]

Full Length over Exon Deficient

The growth hormone receptor is embedded in the outer membrane of cells throughout the body and is most abundant in liver cells.It has three major parts. 1. An extracellular region that sticks out from the surface of the cell. 2. A transmembrane region that anchors the receptor to the cell membrane.  3. An intracellular region [...]

The Tall Dutch

The Dutch are the tallest people in the world: its women stand almost 1.71 metres (5.6 feet) tall, and its men 1.84 metres. But how the Dutch became the world’s tallest people is still debated. Now a Dutch scientist, Gert Stulp, of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, found that tall Dutch men [...]

We are the Model Organism

The Incredible Shrinking Man is interested in the scientific culture of model organisms. A model organism is an animal species that is studied to understand particular biological phenomena, with the expectation that discoveries made in the organism model will provide insight into human biology. This research strategy is made possible by the common descent of all living organisms, and [...]

700 Genetic Factors (for now)

Since 2007 researchers of the Genetic Investigation of Anthropometric Traits (GIANT) consortium are quickly uncovering the polygenic traits that influence human height.  Recently they analysed data from the genomes of another 253,288 subjects and were able to identify 697 gene variants, the pieces of DNA that vary from person to person, in 424 gene regions as related [...]

FOXO3a

Recent studies have identified the FOXO3a (Forkhead Box 3a) transcription gene as an important regulator of morphological scaling. It’s a key regulatory gene in a nutrient- and energy-sensing biological pathway (insulin/IGF-1 signalling pathway),that throughout our evolution was conserved from yeast to humans. FOXO3a anticipates food scarcity by slight alterations to its functionality with resultant phenotypic changes including [...]

Pit-1

Human height is the result of how genetic height potential is turned into reality by circumstance. From the first whispers of life in the womb, the DNA in the nuclei of the embryo’s cells ‘monitors’ what situation to expect at birth, and develops the body accordingly. While genes provide us with the recipes for development, [...]

Celebrate Lactose Intolerance

Milk consumption is one of the engines of the global increase in human height. Therefore we should be grateful for lactose intolerance (the inability to digest milk). It’s what’s keeping people from all over the world from an even more devastating and pointless growth in size. Such an important contribution to a sustainable planet cannot [...]

It’s Not (All) About Genes

There is a strong correspondance between the heights of offspring and the average height of the two parents. In Western societies this amounts to height being up to 90% heritable. But although who your parents are is the predominant determination of height, it’s no excuse for it.
Heritability statistics do not reflect the relative importance of genes [...]

Zebrafish Portraits

Although our last common ancestor lived approximately 450 million years ago the genetic profile of the zebrafish, or Danio rerio, is surprisingly similar to human beings. In addition they are easy to breed, have transparent embryo development and are very cost effective. These, and many other qualities, have made zebrafish into man’s most popular model [...]