Skip to main content
Premium Trial:

Request an Annual Quote

'That Doesn't Sound So Terrible'

This post has been modified from an earlier version.

Over at Slate's Brow Beat blog, Roxanne Palmer says that the late actress Elizabeth Taylor's most famed physical feature — her eyes, "arresting: large, liquid, and framed by a thick fringe of eyelashes" — may have resulted from a mutation at FOXC2. According to Taylor biographer J. Randy Tarbonelli, just after her birth, the actress' physician told her parents that she had "a mutation," because she had two rows of eyelashes. In Tarbonelli's account of the event, Taylor's mother said:

Well that sounded just awful ... a mutation. But, when he explained that her eyes had double rows of eyelashes, I thought, well, now, that doesn't sound so terrible after all.

Later, researchers associated a like phenotype with a variant at FOXC2. Beyond double eyelashes, Slate's Palmer adds, FOXC2 mutations are also associated with "lymphedema-distichiasis syndrome, a hereditary disease that can cause disorders of the lymphatic system." Though Taylor's variant had an effect similar to a cosmetic enhancement, extra eyelashes as a result of this mutation "can sometimes grow inward and damage the cornea," Palmer adds.

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.