The Opposing Thumb

An opinionated digit leafs through the biological literature
Media Roundup

Hamlet Fly

Hamlet-Laurence-Olivier-1ci8ee1

Olivier as Hamlet. Confused, crafty, mad or mutant?

Out today in Science: fruit flies with mutated FoxP genes take “longer than wild-type flies to form decisions of similar or reduced accuracy”– in other words, they waste a lot of time before making a mistake. “We were surprised,” Dr. Miesenböck said. “The original thought was that the flies would just act impulsively, they won’t take time to deliberate. We found that’s not true.” Readers may be familiar with FoxP. One of the fly gene’s vertebrate homologs, FoxP2, is the much ballyhooed “language gene”, linked to human speech and vocalization in species ranging from rodents to songbirds. Based on the new indecisive and inaccurate fly phenotype described by the Misenbock lab at Oxford, Opposing T would propose that the new Drosophila mutant be called European Commission.

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