Neanderthals and Genome Packing

There are some interesting items in last week's issue of Science. First, Michael Balter has a report on the "Human Evolution 150 Years after Darwin" conference held in Gibraltar last month. It reminds me how much we need some serious paleoanthropology in creationism.

The other report I found interesting addresses the question: How do you pack around 40 inches of linear, human DNA into a microscopic nucleus? Lieberman-Aiden et al. use a clever technique to map long-range physical proximity between regions of chromosomes in the human genome. They found that "the chromatin conformation is consistent with a fractal globule, a knot-free, polymer conformation that enables maximally dense packing while preserving the ability to easily fold and unfold any genomic locus." Very elegant.

Balter. 2009. New Work May Complicate History Of Neandertals and H. sapiens. Science326:224-225.
Lieberman-Aiden et al. 2009. Comprehensive Mapping of Long-Range Interactions Reveals Folding Principles of the Human Genome. Science 326:289-293.