New research is demonstrating that our fear of snakes is innate, that is, that we are all genetically programmed at birth to be afraid of snakes. Notwithstanding some contrary research, I suspect the innate fear hypothesis is dead right. Charles Darwin once brought a stuffed snakeskin to the London Zoo in 1872, and the monkeys (who were raised in captivity, without the benefit of being able to learn fear of snakes) reacted in fear; their hair stood on end.
The Pumpkin Genome was recently sequenced, and the results are really fascinating! From Sciencedaily:
“Although the pumpkin is considered a diploid today, meaning that it has only two copies of each chromosome, the genome sequence analysis revealed that between 3-20 million years ago, two different ancestral species combined their genomes to create an allotetraploid — a new species with four (tetra-) copies of each chromosome, from two different (allo-) species.
“Typically after an allotetraploid is formed, the genome will experience downsizing and gene loss, eventually transforming the new species back into a diploid. Sometimes, one of the contributing genomes will dominate over the others to retain more genes, a phenomenon observed in maize and cotton.
“Interestingly, for pumpkins this was not the case. The ancient Cucurbita allotetraploid lost its duplicated genes randomly from both of the contributing diploids. Furthermore, the ancestral chromosome remained largely intact, leaving the modern pumpkin with two subgenomes representing the ancient species that contributed to the paleotetraploid.”