On the lookout for DAPs!

Larry Moran and PZ have both picked up on the term “DAP“. There have already been several more examples identified outside the realm of genomics in their comments threads. As such, I think that “DAP” can be given the following broadened definition: Dog’s Ass Plot (DAP, or Dapper):

A graphical representation of data in […]


Dog’s Ass Plots (DAPs).

The word logodaedaly means “a capricious coinage of words”. It was coined by Plato in the 4th century BC (as “wordsmith”) and picked up by Ben Johnson in 1611 in its current English usage. That’s right, someone coined a term for the process of coining terms.

Sometimes new terms are very useful. Every profession […]


Function, non-function, some function: a brief history of junk DNA.

It is commonly suggested by anti-evolutionists that recent discoveries of function in non-coding DNA support intelligent design and refute “Darwinism”. This misrepresents both the history and the science of this issue. I would like to provide some clarification of both aspects.

When people began estimating genome sizes (amounts of DNA per genome) in the […]


Decoding the blueprint. Sigh.

The results of the proof-of-principle phase of ENCODE, the Encyclopedia of DNA Elements Project, appear in the June 14 issue of Nature. It’s a very interesting project, and it has revealed a few more surprises (or at least, added evidence in favour of previously surprising observations). I will probably post more about it soon, […]


A quick word about species names.

This is a very quick post about something that is annoying to many biologists — the misuse of species names. It is prompted by a news headline I just saw, which is about the 106th time I have seen this problem (“T. Rex”).

The binomial naming system was developed by Linnaeus in the 18th […]


Comments on "Noncoding DNA and Junk DNA" (re-post).

The following is a re-post of my comments on the recently posted Noncoding DNA and Junk DNA at Sandwalk. Needless to say, I am quite pleased to see such active discussion about non-coding DNA. Passages in italics are excerpts from the original article.

TR Gregory said…

Ryan Gregory has serious doubts about the […]


Junctional DNA.

JR Minkel at the Scientific American blog has responded to the post on Evolgen about his earlier story regarding “junk DNA” (did you catch all that?). At the end of the post, he asks: Scientists and scientist bloggers: Again, do you care [if journalists call it junk DNA]? If so, what term would you […]


The onion test.

I am not sure how official this is, but here is a term I would like to coin right here on my blog: “The onion test”.

The onion test is a simple reality check for anyone who thinks they have come up with a universal function for junk DNA. Whatever your proposed function, ask yourself […]


From "Pangenesis" to "Genome".

The term “genetics” has been used in reference to the branch of science dealing with “the physiology of heredity and variation” since 1905. It was coined by the British biologist William Bateson, first in a 1905 letter (see Bateson 1928), and then publicly the following year (Bateson 1906). It was derived directly from the […]


The discovery of DNA.

The following is an adapted excerpt from The Evolution of the Genome, © 2005 Elsevier Academic Press.

In the mid- to late 1800s (and to an extent, well into the 20th century), proteins were considered the most significant components of cells. Their very name reflects this fact, being derived from the […]