Genetics

Dozens of Smithsonian Institution professionals share their favorite reads from this year.

Gift Guides

Smithsonian Scholars Pick Their Favorite Books of 2021

The writings of many fine authors support the research and ambitious undertakings of an Institution rising to the challenges ahead

DNA analysis of a lock of hair taken from Sitting Bull confirms that a South Dakota man is the Lakota leader's great-grandson.

New Research

DNA Analysis Confirms Claim of Sitting Bull Descendant

Formerly in the Smithsonian collections, a lock of hair taken from the Lakota leader verifies South Dakota man is his great-grandson

Poaching was amplified during Mozambique’s civil war between 1977 to 1992 to finance the war efforts. Elephant population numbers dropped from 2,500 individuals to around 200 in the early 2000s.
 

Female Elephants Are Evolving Without Tusks in Mozambique

The genetic mutation causing tusklessness in females seems to be lethal in males

The modern horse overtook other equine lineages as it spread across Europe and Asia thousands of years ago.

Genetic Sequencing Pinpoints the Origins of the Domestic Horse

One lineage in southwestern Russia gave rise to all modern domestic horses, from sleek thoroughbreds to heavy-built Clydesdales

Scientists studied ancient teeth for their findings.

New Research

New Research Dispels Theory That First Americans Came From Japan

Scientists found no distinct relationship after examining ancient teeth of both populations

Early Etruscans had advanced knowledge of art, farming and metallurgy, leading some historians to believe the civilization originated elsewhere before settling in what is now Italy. DNA analysis shows they were actually locals.

New Research

Where Did the Ancient Etruscans Come From?

A new DNA analysis suggests the enigmatic civilization was native to the Italian Peninsula

A mutation in a gene called TBXT be behind the sudden loss of great ape's tails, according to researchers.

Why Humans Don't Have Tails

Scientists pinpointed a gene that could explain why monkeys have the extra appendage, while people don’t

Moai statues at the Rano Raraku site on Easter Island

Genetic Study Maps When and How Polynesians Settled the Pacific Islands

Mysterious stone figures on far-flung islands may have been erected by descendants of seafaring explorers from the same archipelago

Approximately 71 percent of modern Japanese people's ancestry comes from the newly identified Kofun period population.

New Research

DNA Analysis Rewrites Ancient History of Japan

A new study suggests the island's modern populations trace their ancestry to three distinct groups, not two as previously proposed

Resurrecting the Sublime recreates the scent of Hibiscadelphus wilderianus, which went extinct in 1912.

What Do These Extinct Plants Smell Like?

A multidisciplinary collaboration resurrects three types of flora lost due to 20th-century colonialism

A spotted skunk does a handstand.

Scientists Identify Seven Species of Spotted Skunks, and They All Do Handstands Before They Spray

Researchers analyzed hundreds of spotted skunk specimens to classify the animals

Only two of 18 eggs have hatched so far. Congrats to the gator parents, Snowflake and Blizzard!

Rare Albino Alligators Hatch at Florida Zoo

The pair of white and pink hatchlings lack their species' usual dark coloration

The shaded yellow phenotype produced by mutations on the ASIP gene are seen in a collie’s coat color.

Golden Fur in Dogs Evolved Two Million Years Ago, Long Before Domestication

Five coat color variations in domestic canines emerged from an ancient ancestor

Transplanting a human protein, known for promoting growth, into crops may engender larger, heavier and more bountiful plants.

Innovation for Good

Researchers Transfer a Human Protein Into Plants to Supersize Them

While a promising route to boosting crop yields, experts say more work needs to be done to understand why the tweak works

A new article suggests that cats have been underutilized in studies of genetic disease and that studying their genomes, which are structured similarly to humans', could yield new treatments.

New Research

Human Genomes Are Surprisingly Cat-Like

Cat genomes are more similar to ours than those of mice and dogs, yet researchers say felines are underutilized in genetic studies of disease

Before killing Salmonella, the detergent-like protein APOL3 (green) must get through the bacteria's protective outer membrane (red).

Innovation for Good

Human Cells Ward Off Bacterial Invaders With a Protein That Behaves Like Soap

Researchers discover that immune cells aren’t the body’s only line of defense against bacterial pathogens

The Maple Fire photographed burning up Jefferson Ridge in Olympic National Forest, Washington. In court documents, prosecutors alleged that men convicted of illegal logging in the National Forest may have started the Maple Fire.

Innovation for Good

For the First Time, Tree DNA Was Used to Convict Lumber Thieves in Federal Investigation

Genetic evidence showed that two men illegally chopped down and sold valuable bigleaf maple trees inside Olympic National Forest

Presumed self-portrait of Leonardo da Vinci, circa 1512, red chalk on paper

Art Meets Science

Historians Identify 14 Living Relatives of Leonardo da Vinci

An ongoing effort to trace the artist's male lineage may help researchers sequence his genome

Mice pups were borne out of freeze-dried mice sperm that had been stored on the International Space Station for up to six years. Some of those mice and their offspring are pictured here.

After a Six-Year Sojourn in Space, Freeze-Dried Mice Sperm Produce Healthy Pups

Scientists say the finding supports the idea that genetic material can be shipped to other worlds to help establish a diversity of life

Genetic tests reveal that the Shark Bay mouse (pictured) from Shark Bay, Western Australia, is actually a living population of Gould's mouse, which had been thought to be extinct for more than a century.

New Research

Australian Mouse Presumed Extinct for More Than a Century Found Alive on Island

The living Shark Bay mouse turned out to be genetically identical to the formerly extinct Gould’s mouse

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