Sequencing Gregor Mendel and a Pea Plant / Turtles, Elephants, Bottlecaps Down

This week’s Feedback column (that I write) in New Scientist magazine has three segments. Here are bits of each of them:

  • Down, with turtles and elephants — The fabled dominance of the hare by the tortoise has an underground counterpart of sorts in a look at turtles and elephants in times gone by. The elephants came out on top in a 2014 study called “Between the feet of elephants: Turtles as a common element of the associated fauna of proboscideans”. But turtles hog all the attention in a new report called “100 million years of turtle paleoniche dynamics enable the prediction of latitudinal range shifts in a warming world”. The two works serve as reminders that some old conjectures and beliefs really do stand atop shards of physical evidence….
  • Sequencing Gregor Mendel and a Pea Plant — The recent unearthing of the body of Gregor Mendel, so that modern scientists could analyse the DNA of the person who founded the science of genetics, makes possible a spectacular comparison, of man to pea. Mendel is famous for his experiments with pea plants, noticing characteristics that seemed to be passed from parents to their offspring. Šárka Pospíšilová and her colleagues at Masaryk University in the Czech Republic laid out details of how they meddled with Mendel in several studies, one of which is called “Body remains of the founder of genetics Gregor Johann Mendel”.Thanks to them, it now becomes possible, and conceivably enlightening, to compare the DNA of Mendel with that of a pea plant….
  • Bottlecap Down — “There have been few reports of ingestion of bottlecaps worldwide.” With that subtle statement, Mattis Bertlich, Friedrich Ihler, Jan Sommerlath Sohns, Martin Canis and Bernhard Weiss introduce a real-life detective story, told by the investigators themselves in the pages of the medical journal Dysphagia….