transemacabre: (Rose Red)
Cool study that indicates that hype H MTDNA is a strong predictor of outcome during sepsis, with carriers of H MTDNA being twice as likely to survive a bout of severe sepsis as those who are not carriers. Perhaps this gives us a clue as to how the relatively young H haplogroup (a whippersnapper at c. 20,000 years old) spread so widely and successfully -- H MTDNA is found at tremendous levels across Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, and the Caucasus before dropping down to less than 10% of the population around the area of India and Central Asia. Any mutation that conferred a benefit upon carriers would give a small but important advantage to carriers over competitors.

I am among the many millions who have type H MTDNA, and despite being an awkward/careless person who's suffered many scrapes, gashes, cuts, and pricks, I've never gotten septic. I should be grateful to "Helena", or whatever her name was, the mother of my mothers, for passing down this DNA to my goofy ass, as I clearly needed it. Of course, instead of feeling grateful, my first impulse was to gloat HAHA I'M GENETICALLY SUPERIOR TO YOU MUTHAFUCKERS instead.
transemacabre: (Rose Red)
There's been another study of the YDNA (direct paternal line; ie father's father's father, etc.) of the Bourbon dynasty, taking samples from three LIVING male Bourbons (Prince Axel of Bourbon-Parma, Prince Henri-Sixte of Bourbon-Parma, and Prince João of Orleans-Braganza).

A couple years ago, YDNA was also taken from blood believed to belong to Louis XVI of France (Marie Antoinette's husband) and compared to DNA taken from a head believed to be that of Henri IV of France, his ancestor. The results were positive. Both YDNA samples came back as haplogroup G2b.

But those samples don't match the Bourbon samples from the three living gentlemen!

Princes Axel, Henri-Sixte, and João are all in haplogroup R1b, which is in no way identical to G2b. Now scientists are saying the samples from Louis XVI and Henri IV must be misidentified, they can't belong to the kings. But then how did they match each other?? G2a is a fairly rare Y-chromosome haplogroup. It'd be a mighty big coincidink for two random misidentified DNA samples to match each other with such a rare haplogroup!

What I'm wondering is if its not just as likely that there was a 'non-paternity event', so to speak, in the intervening generations which results in the three living princes not having the same YDNA as their legal ancestors.
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Someone on Eupedia posted an interesting list of know MTDNA and Y-chromosomes for notable persons. With a little research, we can deduce the markers of their earliest known direct male-line and direct female-line ancestors.

For the purposes of this post, "foremother" refers to someone's direct-line female ancestress (ie mother's mother's mother, etc.) and "forefather" to the corresponding direct male-line ancestor (ie father's father's father, etc.)

CHARLES I, King of England. MTDNA = T2 (Foremother is Anna von Schaunberg, born c. 1355 in what is now today Slovenia). T2 arose in what's known as Mesopotamia or thereabouts about 50,000 years ago.

CHARLES II and JAMES II, Kings of England. MTDNA = H (Foremother is Juana Núñez de Lara, born c. 1275 in Spain). H is a youngish haplogroup but VERY common in Europeans. Yours truly is also a member of Clan H.

SWEYN II, King of Denmark. MTDNA = H (Foremother is Doubravka of Bohemia; possibly her mother was Biagota, attested from a handful of coins; if so, then Biagota was presumably Bulgarian, like her name).

VALDEMAR I and MAGNUS III, Kings of Sweden. YDNA = I1 (Forefather is Bengt Snivil, born c. 1130). MTDNA = Z1a (Foremother is Richwara, wife of Berthold I, duke of Carinthia). What this means: I1 is THE Norse YDNA haplogroup. The MTDNA Z1a is more exotic -- found in the highest concentrations in China, Korea, and Central Asia, Z1a is also present in some Russians and Saami.
transemacabre: (Default)
So the latest cool news from the scientific community is that it appears that Cro-Magnons DID interbreed with Neanderthals, and moreover, 1-4% of the genes of modern-day non-Africans come from these Neanderthal ancestors. It appears the interbreeding occured about 60,000-40,000 years ago, when humans left Africa and migrated first into the Middle East (Neanderthal skeletons have been found in Israel) and then into Europe. Neanderthal genes haven't been found in individuals of Southern African or West African origin, but presumably North Africans will turn out to have some Neanderthal DNA from back-migration into Africa.

No Neanderthal mtDNA or y-chromosomes have yet been found in modern-day humans, but this just means our Neanderthal ancestors didn't leave any direct male-line or female-line descendants. It's worth noting that no evidence of Cro-Magnon hybrids have yet been found among Neanderthal remains, but keep in mind that only like 200 Neanderthal skeletons have ever been found. There may've been hybrids that threw in their lot with their Neanderthal relatives, or it may have been that the larger, expanding Cro-Magnon population simply absorbed all the hybrids from the smaller, ever-shrinking Neanderthal population.

Now this makes me wonder how these hybrids came about. There's not much evidence for violent conflict between the Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal populations, so we can't just assume that all the hybrids were the result of violent rape (and while I'm sure a Neanderthal male could easy overpower a Cro-Magnon female, the reverse would NOT be true; a female Neanderthal could tear a human male limb-from-limb.) Perhaps as Neanderthal bands shrunk and died off, the survivors were adopted into Cro-Magnon bands. Or perhaps Cro-Magnon females were attracted to the powerful physiques of male Neanderthals and snuck off with them 'behind the woodpile', so to speak.

1-4% might not sound like a lot, but that's one great-great-great-grandparent's genetic contribution to you, as John Hawks points out. Neanderthals weren't just some dead end, Nature's folly, but an important part of our heritage.
transemacabre: (Default)
I was browsing through the excellent and amazing Appendix to the Handbook of the Marvel Universe and reading the profile for Jack Russell, Werewolf By Night. Down towards the bottom, it's mentioned that in Astonishing Tales: One-Shot (Boom Boom and Elsa) #1, a digital comic, that Jack once dated Elsa Bloodstone, but they broke up, quote: "since she was synched up with the lunar cycle, he was always in heat when she wasn't into it."

It seems the writer of this comic made the same mistake as about a billion Inuyasha fanfic writers, which is assuming that male dogs (or lupines, or werewolves) go into "heat", which they don't. Only females do -- it means they're fertile and receptive to being impregnated. The only way that Jack would go into heat is if his werewolf form is female, which I guess is possible considering his transformation is magical.
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Mostly due no doubt to their already weak grasp of science, Marvel's writers and editors have never gone into much detail over exactly how the 'X-gene' that causes mutantcy is inherited. So I've decided to come up with an explanation myself. Please note that I am not a geneticist or a biologist, just a geek thoroughly obsessed with both Marvel Comics and MAD SCIENCE. Also, my BFF is a biologist and we've discussed this issue, so nyah. She thinks my ideas are sound. The whole reason I got to thinking about this subject is because as she was explaining to me the complicated genetics of horse coloring, I blurted out, "Oh, I bet this is how mutant genes work in the MU!" See, I'm convinced that it's not just the fabled X-gene, there must be at least three genes at work producing mutants, and possibly more.

First of all, let us define the word 'mutant'. In Real Life (RL) a mutant is an organism that has DNA different from that of its parents -- ie, its genes have mutated. Technically, we're ALL mutants. Each and every one of us has some minor genetic differences from our parents, caused when all those base-pairs and chromosomes were being stuck together during our conceptions. So that's a RL mutant.

Clearly, Marvel Comics mutants are not one and the same as RL mutants. For one thing, they're identified as a seperate species (really subspecies, but WTF) homo sapiens superior. For another, they're all said to share an 'X-gene' that makes them mutants. From now on in this essay when I say 'mutant' I refer to a Marvel Comics 616 mutant, not a RL mutant.

Now, I realize that obviously Stan and Jack knew squat about heredity when they first came up with the X-Men, so don't just tell me "oh, it's fictional, don't worry about it." Not only do I know that, I don't care, and that attitude is no fun anyway. If you're gonna be like that, piss off and go write, I dunno, pornographic Pokemon fanfic (hot Skitty on Wailord action!) or something.

Thirdly, you need to know that those nifty little Mendelian genetics diagrams they showed you in fourth grade are completely bunk. Yes, your elementary school science teachers lied to you. Genetics is much more complex than "dominant genes and recessive genes". You can have dominant and recessive traits, incomplete dominance, incomplete penetrance, polygenic traits, etc.

Now, to determine how mutantcy is inherited in Marvel Comics, we have to find a method that works with what is known from canon, which is:

Two humans can produce mutant children: Too many examples to list, but a notable example is the Guthrie family, which has produced both mutant and human children.

Two mutants can produce a human child: Probably the best example is Sabretooth and Mystique's son, Graydon Creed.

A human and a mutant can produce mutant children: Plenty of examples, including Charles Xavier and Gabrielle Haller's son Legion, Magneto and Magda's children Wanda and Pietro, and Banshee and his wife Maeve's daughter Siryn.

Two mutates can produce a mutant child: By mutates, I'm referring to people who gained superhuman powers accidentally, as opposed to naturally. A good example is Reed and Susan Richards of the Fantastic Four, and their very powerful mutant son Franklin.

I can't at present recall a human and a mutant producing a human child, or a mutate/human or mutate/mutant pairing producing either a human or a mutant child, but there may well be examples of both I'm forgetting. There's also a mutant/Inhuman pairing (Quicksilver and Crystal) that produced a human child (Luna), but Inhuman genetics are another thorny issue that's probably too complicated to go into here. But as these examples clearly show, not only can humans, mutants, and mutates (and Inhumans) interbreed, but they can produce viable offspring who may be humans or mutants. Sadly, there aren't many third generation examples to study, and the few there are tend to be too complicated to provide a clear picture of inheritance, such as Speed and Wiccan of the Young Avengers, who's father may be a robot, Mephisto, some combination of the two, or they may have just been generated out of thin air by their mutant mother.

But what does this have to do with horses? Well, horses have two base genes that control coat color, e for the recessive red, and E for the dominant black. In addition, there's also a whole pack of modifying genes that can change the expression of e and E. I think something similar is going on with mutancy, in that there's not one, but several genes controlling whether someone is a mutant or not and how it's inherited.

My theory is that there are AT LEAST two seperate genes that determine if someone is a mutant or not. I think there is one gene that codes for the superpowers themselves -- we'll call it the S-gene for the hell of it. Then I think there's another gene that activates the S-gene, so to speak, and this I believe is the famous X-gene. Many, if not most, humans probably carry an S-gene, but without an X-gene (or radiation or whatever) to activate it, their powers remain dormant their entire lives.

I believe that these genes are probably NOT sex-linked, ie. carried on the X and Y chromosomes. This would mean all humans and mutants would have two alleles of each, resulting in 9 possible combinations:

XX Ss *
XX ss
Xx SS *
Xx Ss *
Xx ss
xx SS
xx Ss
xx ss

The types marked with a * are going to be mutants, as they carry both an S-gene and an X-gene. Furthermore, when it comes to offspring this would result in:

-- The XX SS genotype would be guaranteed to produce mutant offspring regardless of whether it mated with a human or a mutant.
-- XX Ss mated to XX SS or Xx SS would always produce mutant offspring
-- But the other possible pairings, such as a Xx Ss with a xx sS, for example, could produce mutant and/or human offspring

To take this example farther, let's assume that Magneto is Xx Ss (he is unlikely to be XX SS because neither of his parents manifested mutant powers, so he could not have inherited those alleles from them). He and Magda, a baseline human, produced at least two mutant offspring. If Magda were, say, xx SS, then Wanda and Pietro could've inherited an X-gene from their father and an S-gene from their mother, making them both mutants. Their genotype could only be Xx SS. Magneto and Magda's other daughter, Anya, assuming she was human, could've been xx Ss, a carrier for the S-gene but not for the X-gene, rendering her a human.

Of course I have no idea what Magneto or Magda's genotypes might be, but I'm throwing that out there as an example to give you an idea how this might work.

Now, to take it a step further, let's see how an XX SS mutant might arise. Let's assume that Scott Summers is xX SS and that Jean Grey (and by extension, her clone Madelyne Pryor) is Xx Ss. They could produce Nathan Summers, aka Cable/Stryfe/X-Man, who inherit two Xs and two Ss, making them XX SS. Therefore, any offspring any of these Nates produce, no matter the mother, could be nothing other than a mutant. Rachel Grey, from the same parents, inherits Scott's x and Jean's X and Scott's S and Jean's s, making her genotypically xX Ss. She's a mutant, but could produce either mutant or human children unless she mates with a XX SS mutant like her brother(s), in which case all her children would be mutants. Get it?

Aside from the X-gene and the S-gene, I believe there's got to be at least one and possibly at least two more genes influencing mutancy, and maybe even a whole slew of them. This would make mutantcy a polygenic trait like schizophrenia or skin color or eye color. I think there's at least one gene that encodes for what sort of powers a person will manifest (ie. an 'energy-manipulator' gene, a 'telepathy' gene, etc.) as well as another gene that creates the so-called secondary mutations that manifest later in life.


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