Tag Archives: Mutation

Book Review: A Discovery of Witches — Evolution and genetic mutations

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Let’s talk about mutations. You are more familiar with the concept than you think. Take for example, the popular movie series X-Men, where the world is surprisingly full of “mutants” with extraordinary abilities, such as Wolverine, Magneto, and Storm to name a few.

I wanted to talk about evolution and genetic changes because I came across a novel that discussed it. A Discovery of Witches (2011), a New York Times bestseller and book one of the All Souls Trilogy, by historian & novelist Dr. Deborah Harkness is a drooling 4-in-1 treat for someone like myself who equally love sci-fi, fantasy, romance, and historical work. Through seamless references to alchemy, Darwinian evolution, genomic studies, and history spanning over a thousand years, the story slowly unfolds mystery surrounding the world where humans unknowingly co-exist with daemons, witches, and vampires. (And yes, the leading vampire is irresistibly attractive AND he happens to be a biochemist like myself.)

Everything seemed fine until I came across the following set of phrases, which raised my eyebrow:

“Species change, adapting to new circumstances… The instinct to survive…is a powerful one – certainly powerful enough to cause genetic changes.” (p.472, Penguin Books)
“…she might have been led to you by the pressures of survival.” (p.473, Penguin Books) Continue reading –>




Filed under Art in Science, Book Review, People in Science

Blond hair in Oceania evolved separately from Europeans — a unique mutation identified in melanin producing machinery

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Blond, Melanesian boy

Melanesians, the aboriginal people of Solomon Islands and Equatorial Oceania, have the darkest skin outside of Africa, but did you know that 5-10% of them are blonds? This is the highest occurrence of blond hair outside of Europe.

A study conducted by an international team of researchers identified a genetic mutation responsible for blond hair in Solomon Islands. Continue reading –>


Filed under Pique of the Week