Chapter 2: Monsters!! (comments due Monday, February 2)

To quote the prophet, "When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro." The weirdness continues apace in Endless Forms Most Beautiful chapter 2. Please consider the following questions as you respond to the weirdness:

  • How useful are "monsters" as a tool for studying normal embryonic development? Is knowing how things go wrong helpful in understanding how things go right, or should abnormal embryology be considered a different field from developmental biology?
  • When I was in grad school, I had a stats professor with an extra bonus thumb on his right hand. (Yes, really. His thumb worked independently of his other fingers, and he could move it separately from his main thumb fairly well. This was a once-a-week night class, btw, and our instructor lectured from an overhead projector, on which he wrote notes with Vis-A-Vis markers. You think I'm hard to follow sometimes….just try focusing on multivariate linear regressions 2.5 hours into the same lecture at 9:30 on a Thursday night, and not be distracted by dude with emergency backup thumb projected hugely onto a screen……but I digress.) What genetic mutation, or change in gene expression, do you think resulted in my stats prof's extra thumb, based on what you know after reading chapter 2?
  • Why no love for the hard-working, ahead-of-their time, lady biologists either in our main textbook (which essentially fails to mention Rosalind Franklin, who may have died from the radiation exposure she suffered from getting the photos that solved the structure of DNA) or in Endless Forms, which similarly neglects Hilde Mangold, the woman who actually did the experiments for which her graduate adviser, Hans Spemann, got the Nobel Prize in 1935?? I mean, I totally get why Dxs. Franklin and Mangold didn't get awarded Nobel prizes, since Nobels are never awarded posthumously, and both of these women died tragically young, before Nobel Prizes based on their work were awarded to anyone. But seriously, what gives with the utter absence of Hilde Mangold from Sean Carroll's description of the Spemann-Mangold ontogeny experiments described on pp. 40-41? (Note, Dx. Mangold's name shows up on the photo credit for the picture of the twin embryo on p. 41, which she created & took a picture of, and on which she did her disseration. But she's totally written out of the history of these seminal experiments, at least in this telling. Why?)
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