Quirks & Quarks

Canadian Telescope Explores Dark Energy * Toddlers Tell Lies * Teeth Reveal Dinosaur Species * Tapeworm Eggs in Fossilized Shark Poop * Identically Different: The Science of Epigenetics

Identical twins are incredibly similar - which makes sense, since they have precisely the same genes.  But a practiced eye can often find subtle differences.  On today's program, we'll speak with a researcher who explains how the new science of epigenetics can produce twins who are "Identically Different."  Plus, it turns out that even two-year-olds can tell a lie; we'll...
Listen to the full episode52:03
Identical twins are incredibly similar - which makes sense, since they have precisely the same genes.  But a practiced eye can often find subtle differences.  On today's program, we'll speak with a researcher who explains how the new science of epigenetics can produce twins who are "Identically Different."  Plus, it turns out that even two-year-olds can tell a lie; we'll find out how to determine dinosaur diversity from dinosaur dentistry; and we'll hear how prehistoric tapeworms ended up in fossilized shark poo. But first - ringing the cosmos' CHIME.


play-icon.jpg Listen to the whole show (pop up player) or
Download Podcast
use this link to download an mp3.



chime-for-Reach.jpg CHIME will consists of five half-pipe antennae in a 100M square array.  Courtesy CHIME
Last week, astronomers broke ground on a new Canadian telescope, designed to understand the mysterious dark energy.  For about a decade, we've understood that the universe's expansion, which started at the Big Bang, began to accelerate about 6 or 7 billion years ago.  The telescope is designed to look at this point in the universe's history, by looking before and after the transition, to try to understand the nature of the dark energy.  Dr. Kris Sigurdson, a professor of Physics and Astronomy at the University of British Columbia, is a co-investigator on the telescope, dubbed CHIME, for the "Canadian Hydrogen Intensity-Mapping Experiment."
          
Related Links

play-icon.jpgListen to this item (pop up player) or 
Download Podcast
use this link
to download an mp3.





istock_toddler.jpg Not clouds in the background, smoke from  pants on fire.  (Istock photo)
A new study has found that children, as young as two, are capable of telling a lie, much earlier than previously thought.  Dr. Angela Evans, an Assistant Professor in the Psychology Department at Brock University in St. Catharines, studied 2-to-3-year-olds in a guessing game experiment that required children not to peek.  When left by themselves, 25 percent of the two-year-olds not only peeked, but lied when asked if they had looked.  That percentage increased among the 3-year-old children.  The study also revealed that children who lied were those who scored highest in executive function tests - suggesting they are further advanced in matters of planning, problem solving, organizing and remembering details - all cognitive skills required to tell a lie.

Related Links
play-icon.jpgListen to this item (pop up player) or 
Download Podcast
use this link
to download an mp3.




troodon_tooth.jpg A tooth from the carnivorous theropod Troodon, courtesy Jan Sovak
Small meat-eating dinosaur species were much more common and diverse, late in the age of dinosaurs, than we previously thought.  Or at least their teeth were.  Fossil dinosaur teeth are, if not common, at least not as rare as dinosaur bones, but it's hard to reconstruct a dinosaur from teeth alone.  Derek Larson, a paleontologist and PhD student at the University of Toronto, made a large study of more than a thousand dinosaur teeth and discovered that the diversity suggested there were three times as many small predatory dinosaurs as had been known from skeletal remains. 

Related Links

play-icon.jpgListen to this item (pop up player) or 
Download Podcast
use this link
to download an mp3.





Tapeworm Eggs in Fossilized Shark Poop

shark_coprolite.jpg Fossilized Shark poop or coprolite.  Courtesy LF Lopes
A cluster of tapeworm eggs was recently found in 270-million-year-old fossilized shark feces, known as coprolite, in a lake-bed in Brazil.  Dr. George Poinar, a Paleontologist from the Department of Zoology at Oregon State University, studied the 93 smooth shelled eggs and found their preservation to be remarkable.  The study concluded that these fossils indicate that intestinal parasites in vertebrates date back much earlier than previously thought.  The fact that sharks have been around for over 400 million years suggests they may have been the original host, but whether tapeworms were ever free-living, or evolved inside another species, remains unknown.


Related Links


Listen to this itemplay-icon.jpg (pop up player) or 
Download Podcast
use this link
to download an mp3.





Identically Different: The Science of Epigenetics

identically_different.jpg  
Dr. Tim Spector is a Professor of Genetic Epidemiology at King's College, London, and runs the TwinsUK registry, which tracks more than 12,000 twins.  This vast resource is used to try to understand more about whether disease, behaviour, aging, addiction, and many other characteristics have genetic roots, or are more influenced by environment.  It's a tool, essentially, for untangling the difference between nature (genetics) and nurture (environment).  But work by Dr. Spector and many other researchers has found that there is no way to untangle these two influences.  And, in fact, the new science of epigenetics is revealing that gene expression can be profoundly influenced and even changed by the environment.  Dr. Spector looks at much of this work in his new book, Identically Different: Why you can change your genes

Related Links

play-icon.jpgListen to this item (pop up player) or 
Download Podcast
use this link
to download an mp3.




Theme music bed copyright Raphaël Gluckstein, Creative Commons License by-nc-nd-2.0

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

now