Molecular Evolution

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Woolly mammoths

Woolly mammoths were fat, hairy and could tolerate extreme cold. Now researchers have tracked down some molecular changes that contributed to those adaptations.

prions and disease

BRAIN DRAIN  Prion diseases, such as kuru and mad cow disease, result when a normal brain protein (lower left) morphs into a disease-causing form and converts its normal counterparts. The twisted proteins form clumps (upper center) or strands that cluster in large plaques (lower right) that kill brain cells. 

gene stats

SWAPPED  Evolution has held to tried-and-true genes for some processes while allowing innovation in other areas, according to experiments that exchanged yeast genes for human versions. Shown are the percentages of yeast genes in certain biological processes that can be successfully swapped for a human gene. 

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