AP Biology class blog for discussing current research in Biology

Tag: Islands

Island Lizards More Tame

A study conducted by a team of researchers from the University of California, Riverside, Indiana University, Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and George Washington University showed that lizards from islands are more calm then ones from mainland regions. The researchers established this by comparing the flight initiation distance, or distance before a prey starts to flee when approached,  between various lizards. The researchers were able to approach island lizards more closely then mainland lizards. The study was inspired by a long-time debate that island animals were more “tame” that started with an observation by Charles Darwin when he visited the Galapagos Islands. He felt that because these islands were scarce of most predators, those animals which did not waste energy fleeing unnecessarily would have a better chance of survival. All of this being said the findings were inconclusive.There are many variables that factor in to flight initiation distance and can not be categorized by where a creature lives. Reptile_tx_usa

Blondes Unite!

Despite the ‘dumb blonde’ jokes, and Danish or Dutch teases, I have enjoyed being blonde haired. As far as hair colors go, I think being blonde is perfectly suitable. However, there are certain preconceptions about hair color and race that people have. One being that people of certain ethnicities and races cannot have naturally blonde hair. This new study proves that idea wrong.

Photo Cred: Aust Defence Force

An article in the New York Times describes the experiments done on a group of people from the Solomon Islands. For some inexplicable (but not any more!) reason, many of the dark- skinned inhabitants have naturally blonde hair. But why?

Scientists did experiments on a giant chunk of the islanders, taking saliva samples from over a thousand people. Then they looked specifically at 43 blonde, and 42 dark haired islanders. What the discovered was that the blonde haired islanders had a specific gene, now called TYRP1, that changes the pigmentation of their hair.

What is perhaps most surprising is that Europeans have no trace of the gene in their genome. This, as Carlos Bustamante says: “For me it breaks down any kind of simple notions you might have about race,”

Hopefully these scientists will continue to learn more about hair and skin pigments and the genes that cause them. Do you like your hair color? Ever wonder why certain people seem to have one type of hair color instead of another? Just remember, it can all be explained by the genes.

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