Bjørn Østman

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  • November 9, 2008
  • 01:00 AM

Head injury as a cause of ADHD

by Bjørn Østman in Pleiotropy

Head injury is not a causative factor of ADHD, but it may be a marker for subsequent diagnosis of ADHD.... Read more »

  • December 29, 2008
  • 01:00 AM

Go on, marry your cousin

by Bjørn Østman in Pleiotropy

Not that I was ever thinking about it, but should I marry my cousin? Should anyone? Is it such a bad idea that there should be laws against it? You may not know that there are laws prohibiting first cousins from marrying in most US states. In this picture the white colored states are the ones that do not.... Read more »

  • December 26, 2008
  • 01:00 AM

Neanderthals outcompeted by humans?

by Bjørn Østman in Pleiotropy

Wouldn't you love it if the Neanderthals hadn't gone extinct, but were still living with us today? I'd give my right arm to see that (but then again, I'd give my right arm to be ambidextrous). It is still hotly debated how they went extinct, but a paper in PLoS ONE [1] concludes that Homo neanderthalensis were outcompeted by humans.... Read more »

William E. Banks, Francesco d'Errico, A. Townsend Peterson, Masa Kageyama, Adriana Sima, & Maria-Fernanda Sánchez-Goñi. (2008) Neanderthal Extinction by Competitive Exclusion. PLoS ONE, 3(12). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0003972  

R GREEN, A MALASPINAS, J KRAUSE, A BRIGGS, P JOHNSON, C UHLER, M MEYER, J GOOD, T MARICIC, & U STENZEL. (2008) A Complete Neandertal Mitochondrial Genome Sequence Determined by High-Throughput Sequencing. Cell, 134(3), 416-426. DOI: 10.1016/j.cell.2008.06.021  

  • October 10, 2008
  • 01:00 AM

Non-functional DNA conserved in evolution

by Bjørn Østman in Pleiotropy

When a stretch of DNA is really important for an organism, natural selection will make sure that it is not changed much from generation to generation. This is termed purifying selection, and whenever it is observed, the conserved DNA is responsible for some function that the organism can't do without.Conversely, when a stretch of DNA is observed to code for an important function in the organism, it is a pretty solid guess that it is highly conserved by purifying selection. Survival and/or reprod........ Read more »

McLean, Bejerano. (2008) Dispensability of mammalian DNA. Genome Research.

  • September 28, 2010
  • 11:09 AM

Pivar's pure fantasy published

by Bjørn Østman in Pleiotropy

Bogus paper published in serious journal... Read more »

Pivar, S. (2010) The origin of the vertebrate skeleton. International Journal of Astrobiology, 1-21. DOI: 10.1017/S147355041000025X  

  • January 30, 2009
  • 01:00 AM

Finger lengths predict stockbrokers' success

by Bjørn Østman in Pleiotropy

Longer ring fingers predict how well stockbrokers do at trading in fast-paced high-risk markets.... Read more »

J. M. Coates, M. Gurnell, & A. Rustichini. (2009) Second-to-fourth digit ratio predicts success among high-frequency financial traders. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(2), 623-628. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0810907106  

  • November 5, 2008
  • 01:00 AM

Homosexuality is catholic in the animal kingdom

by Bjørn Østman in Pleiotropy

Beetles, bisons, black swans, bonobos, dolphins, elephants, flamingos, fruit bats, fruit flies, giraffes, lions, lizards, macaques, orangutans, ostriches, penguins, sheep. What do these animals have in common?They are all homosexual. In fact, the list is much, much longer. Here is what Petter Bøckman has to say about it:No species has been found in which homosexual behaviour has not been shown to exist, with the exception of species that never have sex at allWe can thus safely conclude that the........ Read more »

  • January 18, 2009
  • 01:00 AM

Wealthy men's women have more orgasms

by Bjørn Østman in Pleiotropy

If your man is rich you'll have a higher frequency of orgasms. At least if you're Chinese (not including Tibet and Hong Kong). Why is this interesting at all, except that it's about sex, which human find interesting in a of itself? Well, because we have no idea why women have orgasms in the first place. It pretty clear why, and notably when, men have orgasms, but no one really knows why women have them.Male income and height are were included to measure male quality, because both parameters have........ Read more »

  • October 7, 2008
  • 01:00 AM

Evolution and pleiotropy

by Bjørn Østman in Pleiotropy

Pleiotropy is the effect of one gene affecting multiple traits, as when Drosophila genes are expressed in more than one place during embryogenesis. For a bunch of examples of that, seeRepression and loss of gene expression outpaces activation and gain in recently duplicated fly genes, Oakley, Østman, and Wilson, 2006, PNAS, 103, 11637.In my own work on computer simulations of epistatic interactions, it is clear that pleiotropy has the effect of changing the phenotype more per mutation than with........ Read more »

  • March 10, 2009
  • 01:00 AM

Chimpanzee plans for the future

by Bjørn Østman in Pleiotropy

Santino is a thirty year old male chimpanzee at Furuvik Zoo in Sweden. For the last decade he has been collecting stones before the zoo opens, stashing them in around his enclosure, and then when the visitors arrive, has been throwing the rocks at them - though, thankfully, he apparently has a poor aim.... Read more »

  • February 18, 2009
  • 01:00 AM

Plants are officially boring

by Bjørn Østman in Pleiotropy

This fantastic paper finally proves that plants are boring and animals are exciting. At least in the eyes of men.... Read more »

  • June 15, 2011
  • 05:37 PM

Homophobes are turned on by homosexuality

by Bjørn Østman in Pleiotropy

Unfortunately I can't access the full length article of this one: Is homophobia associated with homosexual arousal?But it is obviously too good to miss. The abstract reads:The authors investigated the role of homosexual arousal in exclusively heterosexual men who admitted negative affect toward homosexual individuals. Participants consisted of a group of homophobic men (n = 35 ) and a group of nonhomophobic men (n = 29); they were assigned to groups on the basis of their scores on the In........ Read more »

Adams, H., Wright, L., & Lohr, B. (1996) Is homophobia associated with homosexual arousal?. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 105(3), 440-445. DOI: 10.1037/0021-843X.105.3.440  

  • November 30, 2008
  • 01:00 AM

Watching multicellularity evolve before our eyes

by Bjørn Østman in Pleiotropy

Chlorella vulgaris is an asexual, unicellular green alga. It has been observed in the laboratory to maintain unicellularity for thousands of generations. Boraas and his collaborators (1998) kept Chlorella for two decades in this way. Then they decided to add a predator, Ochromonas vallescia, also a unicellular organism. It has a flagellum (a tail with which it can swim about), and it eats Chlorella. This is bad news for the Chlorella population, which thus experiences a shift in selective pressu........ Read more »

  • December 8, 2008
  • 01:00 AM

Graham's cancer selection is without merit

by Bjørn Østman in Pleiotropy

Via a Google advertisement entitled "Evo-Devo" needs "Onco" I found my way to the website of a James Graham. He wrote a book that he published himself in 1993: Cancer Selection: The New Theory of Evolution.Warning: verbose!On his website he writes of himself in the third person:He postulates that cancer killed uncountable numbers of immature animals and concludes that the resulting accumulation of defenses against the disease enabled the emergence of complexity. In all evolving animal lineages ........ Read more »

  • August 6, 2009
  • 11:17 PM

Darwin's theory can handle the landscape

by Bjørn Østman in Pleiotropy

Cue the fitness landscape. A multi-dimensional function for organism fitness (ability to reproduce) as a function of the genotype*. A population moves "uphill" when it can to maximize fitness, akin to physical systems, which always moves to minimize its energy.... Read more »

Weissman DB, Desai MM, Fisher DS, & Feldman MW. (2009) The rate at which asexual populations cross fitness valleys. Theoretical population biology, 75(4), 286-300. PMID: 19285994  

  • November 22, 2011
  • 11:45 AM

Reproductive species vs. ecological species

by Bjørn Østman in Pleiotropy

Why are two breeds of dogs who can't mate without human assistance the same species, while two fish species, which can and do have fertile offspring, but which are intermediate in size and therefore not as good at obtaining resources as the parents, are different species?... Read more »

  • June 30, 2011
  • 04:29 PM

Using deleterious mutations to cross fitness valleys - as misunderstood by ID creationists

by Bjørn Østman in Pleiotropy

It is fitting that an article I just got published in Proceedings of the Royal Society B [1] has been blogged about on the ID lover's Uncommon Descent: Are Fitness Valleys Too Deep?
... Read more »

  • December 29, 2010
  • 06:36 PM

Pleiotropy is 100 years old

by Bjørn Østman in Pleiotropy

This year, the term pleiotropy was defined 100 years ago, and Frank Stearns, graduate student at the University of Maryland biology graduate program has written a perspective in Genetics, which I highly recommend.... Read more »

  • April 2, 2009
  • 01:20 AM

Amazonian tribe is from another planet

by Bjørn Østman in Pleiotropy

A society so strange it changes what it means to be human. A culture so foreign that the ways which we know ourselves are altered. I no longer need to invoke aliens coming to Earth to imagine how one culture might find another extraterrestrial. The Pirahã will do.... Read more »

  • September 28, 2012
  • 09:45 AM

Genotype-phenotype maps and mathy biology

by Bjørn Østman in Pleiotropy

... Read more »

Peter F. Stadler, & Christopher R. Stephens. (2003) Landscapes and Effective Fitness. Comm. Theor. Biol. DOI: 10.1080/08948550302439  

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