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Evolution Roundup

December 30, 2005

Bob Hirshon reports on a discovery that links us to the fruitfly.


A fly on the family tree. I’m Bob Hirshon and this is Science Update.

Scientists at the Carnegie Institution of Washington recently discovered that fruitflies have stem cells in their gut similar to those in humans and other vertebrates. The scientists say humans and flies share common ancestors 500 million years ago. This particular connection will help the researchers use fruitflies to study human digestive disorders.

In other news, scientists report in the journals Nature and Biology Letters on the running styles of humans versus greyhounds. Humans have to use the same muscles to propel themselves as they use to support their weight, and expend a lot of energy staying upright around corners. Greyhounds use separate muscles for propulsion and support, and corner much more easily. The work will benefit both vets and sports medicine professionals in optimizing speed and avoiding injuries. I’m Bob Hirshon, for AAAS, the science society.