June 5, 2012 | by  | in Opinion |
Share on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestTweet about this on Twitter

Science: What’s It Up To?

Genetic Variation: Now We’re Gonna Have AnnnnnTs…

As I arrived home the other evening I was greeted with a bizarre question: “Did you know that only some people can smell ants?!”

I didn’t. But it got me thinking, what are some interesting genetic differences in people? Are there other strange things that only some of us can or can’t do?

Well for starters there are hereditary diseases, thousands of them. A particularly interesting one is haemophilia, a disorder that impairs the body’s ability to control blood clotting or coagulation, which is used to stop bleeding when a blood vessel is broken. Not that the disease is that interesting symptoms-wise, but haemophilia figured prominently in the history of European royalty in the 19th and 20th centuries. Back in the old days, fancy people married fancy people, in order to keep control of the crown. As a result, Britain’s Queen Victoria, through two of her five daughters (Princess Alice and Princess Beatrice), passed the mutation to various royal houses across the continent, including the royal families of Spain, Germany and Russia. Victoria’s son Prince Leopold, Duke of Albany suffered from the disease. For this reason, haemophilia was once popularly called “the royal disease.” Sadly, no living member of the present or past reigning dynasties of Europe is known to have symptoms of haemophilia or is believed to carry the gene for it.

Most Chinese people lack, in one of the rare cases of this type, a beneficial mutation that enables others to eat milk and dairy products. Chinese distaste for milk was thought to be cultural until the 1960s, when lactose intolerance was found in many populations in East and South East Asia, and also in parts of Africa. Within the past 10,000 years, the beneficial mutation spread only where dairy farming was the norm.

In 1940, the famous geneticist Alfred Sturtevant noted that about 70 per cent of people of European ancestry are able to roll up the lateral edges of the tongue, while the remaining 30 per cent were unable to do so. It may be due to a single gene, with the ability to roll the tongue a dominant trait and the lack of tongue rolling ability being a recessive trait. However, there is some question about the inheritance of tongue rolling. Recent studies have shown that around 30 per cent of identical twins do not share the trait.

Ants have the distinct of odour of formic acid, but only some people can smell them, you’ll definitely know if you can. People with more complex olfactory systems end up being the perfume connoisseurs that you always assumed to be full of shit.

Share on FacebookShare on Google+Pin on PinterestTweet about this on Twitter

About the Author ()

Comments (1)

Trackback URL / Comments RSS Feed

  1. channel 4 says:

    great blog I’m a massive big brother viewer

Recent posts

  1. Turns out there wasn’t a bomb LOL
  2. IDF soldiers speak on campus
  3. Why I voted for fee rises
  4. Fuck the Establishment
  5. Facebook upset over fee rises
  6. Hack Like Nobody’s Watching
  7. The Ian Curtis Memorial Wall, Wallace Street: An Investigation
  8. Why I Hate Baby Boomers
  9. Foibles of a Foxton Forger
  10. Coppers Become Croppers

Editor's Pick

In the Shadow of the Kowloon Walled City

: At its peak, the Kowloon Walled City was home to 33,000 people in just two hectares of land—a hastily put together conglomerate of tiny apartments, one of top of the other, caged balconies slapped onto the sides and connected through a labyrinth of damp, dark corridors.