In the early 1950s, scientists discovered the double-helix structure of DNA. Since then, scientists have thought about the possibility of artificially modifying DNA to change the functions of the organism. It was first trialed in 1990, when “a four-year-old girl had her white blood cells removed, augmented with the genes that produce an enzyme called adenosine deaminase (ADA), and then reinjected into her body to treat ADA deficiency, a genetic condition that hampers the immune system’s ability to fight disease,” reports Smithsonian Mag.
If we can edit genes, there’s a host of discoveries that will help the future. Furthermore, “the patient’s body began producing the ADA enzyme. But new white blood cells with the corrected gene were not produced, and she had to continue receiving injections.” This is pretty remarkable and opened a ton of new doors for researchers and scientists. They might be able to discover diseases like cancer by modifying the cells and reinjecting them into the body (Smithsonian Mag).
Everyone has a butt. The butt is the butt of all jokes. We could go on and on forever with butt jokes, but why do we have them? The truth of the matter is that butts remain one of the biggest scientific mysteries out there, even if it does seem hilarious. The appearance of the anus was a huge momentous moment in the evolution of animals. Before we had an anus, animals had to both eat and excrete through the same hole.
That doesn’t sound pleasant at all and sounds horrifying and repulsive. That sounds like one way to catch an illness and fast. Scientists are unaware of which animal first developed the anus, and when they developed it. Because the anus doesn’t fossilize, it’s impossible to dig through skeletal bones and fossils and find out where it first came from. Until we solve that mystery, we just have to be thankful for it (Vox).
Learning about the past and where humans came from is one of the biggest scientific mysteries in the world. We weren’t there to study them. In 2010, scientists used a tool to study the past. They “used a hair preserved in permafrost to sequence the genome of a man who lived some 4,000 years ago in what is now Greenland.” It’s fascinating that hair can survive a long time. He says, the hair revealed “the physical traits and even the blood type of a member of one of the first cultures to settle in that part of the world,” according to Smithsonian Mag. This is fascinating, considering how much information they were able to discover from just hair.
Because of this finding, geneticists and anthropologists were able to learn more about the culture of the past than they were previously. Still, it’s challenging to extract ancient DNA like hair or skin. Oftentimes, it’s contaminated with the DNA of microbes from the environment, which taints any findings the scientists might have made. To fight this, scientists also used the petrous bone of the skull, which is a dense bone near the ear to learn more about our ancestors (Smithsonian Mag).
Some insects and animals can walk on water, and that’s spiders, lizards, ants, and snails. Scavenger Beetles can also walk on water, but they can also do more tricks than just walk. They’re remarkable in that they can flip upside-down and scuttle beneath the surface of the water. It’s as if they’re climbing underneath a glass table, except that glass is water. It’s truly bizarre and is something that remains one of the most fascinating mysteries in regard to insects. To study this, scientists took a few different approaches. “In the first study to analyze this skill in-depth, researchers filmed the insects’ inverted crawling technique. These beetles trap air bubbles with their leg hairs to keep them oxygenated. But video footage shows this behavior may also keep them afloat and pinned to the surface.”
It seems like these insects are smarter than us humans. “The bubble likely gives the bug enough support to put some pressure on the water-air boundary without breaking through. The beetle’s footsteps even push up “tiny hills” of water along the surface as they go.” Even after observing these bugs, scientists still have many questions. They’re using these insects to help build bots that replicate the bug’s skills. This is just like the shark intestines and butterfly wings. It looks like scientists are turning to the natural world more and more to create an unnatural world for the use of search and rescue or military purposes (Smithsonian Mag).
These aquatic extremophiles look like eight-legged chunky bears. They can survive in some of the most inhospitable places in the world. This includes extremely hot, boiling, hydrothermal vents, and absolute zero temperatures going from one extreme to the next. That’s not something humans will ever think about surviving, ever. They can survive the vacuum of space and pressure six times the deepest pit of the ocean. They’re also the only soft-bodied animal that can walk, compared to their counterparts that slither, wriggle, and thrash around like worms. Smithsonian Mag found out that “tardigrades walk like insects 500,000 times their size.
These little creatures look like aliens. They’re a bit freaky to look at, but we honestly have a lot to learn from them. Though they move only half of their already-minuscule body length (0.5 millimeters) per second on average, they can move two body lengths simultaneously at top speed. Slow as they may be, they also seem to adjust their steps according to the terrain they’re navigating.” Scientists are looking at ways to use the way they walk in new forms of locomotion, used for micro-scale robots. Again, we’re seeing the scientific mysteries in the world. The Tardigrades use minimal brain power and energy, following simple rules that have a high impact (Smithsonian Mag).