SFP: Episode 293: The New Normal
This episode contains: We’re still stuck in our houses. We discuss how we’re dealing with the ongoing COVID-19 situation.
Biological Imperative: Ancestor of all animals identified in Australian fossils. A wormlike creature that lived more than 555 million years ago is the earliest bilaterian. Geologists have discovered the first ancestor on the family tree that contains most animals today, including humans. The wormlike creature, Ikaria wariootia, is the earliest bilaterian, or organism with a front and back, two symmetrical sides, and openings at either end connected by a gut. It was found in Ediacaran Period deposits in Australia and was 2-7 millimeters long, with the largest the size of a grain of rice.
Biological Imperative: Squid can control their genetic coding by editing their RNA. “Now we are showing that squid can modify the RNAs out in the periphery of the cell. That means, theoretically, they can modify protein function to meet the localized demands of the cell. That gives them a lot of latitude to tailor the genetic information, as needed.” The capacity to edit the mRNA outside of the nucleus enables the squid to alter which proteins are expressed (coded for) along different parts of the nervous system. The team isn’t yet sure exactly why squid have evolved this capability, which implies it plays a beneficial role. mRNA editing within the nucleus has been observed in octopus and cuttlefish, which has led to researchers questioning if perhaps this tweaking skill has contributed to these invertebrates’ superior intelligence.
Sci-Fi: Rick and Morty, Solar Opposites, Westworld, Tiger King, and more!