Tuesday, October 08, 2013

DNA of whales and... unknown primates?

The species known as Bryde's whale may be 16m long, but it is very little studied. The IUCN says there's not even enough data to know whether it's endangered. Actually, we don't even know if it's one global population or has distinct units.
Or we didn't.  Now we know there are two distinct subpopulations, or subspecies.  The smaller, coastal form has only one matriarchal DNA line: in other word,s there's very little variation.  In addition, the larger, ocean-going type is split into three sub-sub populations.  This may seen academic, but the conservation implications are big. Now we can study how each group is doing and tailor efforts to protect them..

Meanwhile, recall I rejected Dr. Melba Ketchum's claims about sasquatch DNA.  I said it was my final word, and it was.  But something potentially more interesting is going on. Prof Brian Sykes  offered to test "unknown primate" DNA samples, and he got them from all over the world.  He went through a lot of trash but apparently had significant results.
Sykes is a credentialed authority - what he has to say will be interesting.
But I'm troubled.  Apparently, while the findings are still going through peer review, there will be a documentary and a book.  The only comparable recent discovery (if this is a discovery) would be of the Flores "hobbit" people, and that one was done right: the peer review came first, and the discovery was announced in NATURE, the world's most prestigious and trusted journal.  That's the way to do it.

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