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To Take Flight, Bump Up the Size of Your Genome

At Genomicron, T. Ryan Gregory presents evidence from a colleague's recently published paper and his own grad students' work to show that pterosaur genomes were downsized prior to evolving the ability to fly. Pterosaurs could fly 70 million years before birds and 150 million years prior to bats. "The story thus seems to be that genome reduction occurred in the dinosaur lineage of which birds are descendants before flight (so did feathers, bipedalism, and other characteristics), but were later further adjusted when flight arose (as were feathers, etc.)," he writes. "So it's not flight per se that matters, but a feature linked with flight."

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.