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The Six Toes of Hemingway's Cats

Author Ernest Hemingway, whose image is that of a "macho big-game hunter and marlin fisherman" and who survived multiple wars, was also a keeper of cats, reports The New York Times. His house, which has become a museum, is home to 50 cats, many of which are polydactyl. As researchers at Medical Research Council Human Genetics Unit in Edinburgh found, the extra digit on the cats' paws comes from a disruption of how the Sonic hedgehog gene is regulated, a gene that is found across many different species. "The story of the origin of Hemingway's cats is one of finding deep genetic connections among very different animals — from fruit flies to chickens, mice, cats, and yes, even humans," writes Sean Carroll at the Times.

The Scan

Renewed Gain-of-Function Worries

The New York Times writes that the pandemic is renewing concerns about gain-of-function research.

Who's Getting the Patents?

A trio of researchers has analyzed gender trends in biomedical patents issued between 1976 and 2010 in the US, New Scientist reports.

Other Uses

CBS Sunday Morning looks at how mRNA vaccine technology could be applied beyond SARS-CoV-2.

PLOS Papers Present Analysis of Cervicovaginal Microbiome, Glycosylation in Model Archaea, More

In PLOS this week: functional potential of the cervicovaginal microbiome, glycosylation patterns in model archaea, and more.