Doc Bushwell's Chimpanzee Refuge

Friday, April 14, 2006

The incessant chirping of bioengineered crickets from hell

The Chimpanzee Refuge has been devoid of its usual bonobic hoots and screeches. We will be moving to Science Blogs in the near future, hence my reluctance to add verbiage here since my ever so precious yammerings will wind up in archival purgatory. Nonetheless, I can't keep my trap shut for long so here's a little potpourri of offerings:

In the old news department, there was quite a hoopla over the discovery of the fishapod (Tiktaalik roseae) fossils which represent a transitional species between fish and land-living critters. Tiktaalik roseae quickly became an evolutionary "In yo' face, suckas!" icon exploited by not a few press releases for twitting the ID/anti-evolutionists crowd. See Time Mag's blurb. I won't even bother to link the NYT article since you'd have to pay for it, but the nose thumbing was in there, believe me.

I suppose it's easier for the public to wrap their collective arms around an endearingly goofy looking fishapod than unseen molecules. To paraphrase Malibu Stacy, the molecular evolution of proteins is haaaaaard. Thus, Tiktaalik somewhat overshadowed the more titillating press release covering the publication of Jamie Bridgham et al.'s "Evolution of Hormone-Receptor Complexity by Molecular Exploitation" in Science (April 7, 2006 vol. 312 ). It's a lovely piece of work, but then I'm a fool for nuclear hormone receptor biochemistry. Those of you with access to Science can read the manuscript in its entirety there. For you non-subscriber shlubs, here's the link to the NYT article: Study, in a First, Explains Evolution's Molecular Advance. Yes, the NYT will let you read about molecular evolution for free! And again with the twitting: in yo' face, Behe!

Although the NYT article trumpets this as a first, and indeed the work out of Thorton's lab at the University of Oregon nicely outlines the progression of molecular evolution of the aldosterone receptor (aldosterone is a mineralocorticoid; these hormones and receptor partners regulate water and electrolyte balance), enzymologists often think about evolution of enzymatic efficiency and how proteins have been shaped through adaptative processes as catalysts. That will be the subject of another blog entry after the Chimp Refuge moves on up out of the trailer park and into its new suburban tract home.

Finally, a tip o' the hat to those rapscallions at FrinkTank now to be found in the clutter of Bushwellian links to the right. The Frinks offer a scurrilously hilarious take on things scientific and are my slightly guilty pleasure. Plus the blog refers to one of my favorite Simpsons characters. What's not to like? The world is indebted to the Frinks who called attention to Tim Kreider's excellent comic, The Pain - When will it end? , an example of which follows. Let's hear a raucous hoot, my bonobos, for FrinkTank and Tim Kreider.


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