How A Tiger’s Stripes Are Like A Mouse’s Mouth

Cruising around the interwebs, I caught sight of something.  I wasn’t sure what it was, because it was hiding in the tall grass, but upon further examination, it appeared to be a news story about a tiger.

Well, I have a certain affection for tigers, not in the animal sex way, which I am putting in here merely to boost stats and make sure that I can put a tag on here that will guarantee more stats because our site isn’t flagged by safe search and you people out there on the internet are hilariously gross, but because they are fascinatingly beautiful and terrifying.  Oh, the dreams that I have had about being dragged alive up into a tree to be devoured by a tiger.

Anyway, the reason this caught my eye is because it also involves you, internets.  Or at least someone you should know about, because it was a lot of this man’s theories that got us to the place where we can even have the conversation about animal sex on the internet.  His name is Alan Turing, and he was one of the forefront of computer technology in the mid 1900s.  Being at the forefront of computer technology then, by the way, sort of means that you were at the forefront of fire in 10,000 BC.  You were on the cutting cutting edge.

Turing was not just at the forefront of computers though, he was a generalist and theorized about a lot of stuff. One of the things that he theorized about was the reason that tigers get their stripes in certain patterns.  He used the most powerful weapon in his arsenal, inheritance and probability.  He believed there was an interference pattern based on genetics that created the tigers stripes.  This turns out to be the case, but the way we figured it out is interesting.

We used mouse mouths.  A mouse’s mouth has a ridged pattern that resembles a tiger’s stripes.  Someone, doing a lot of genetic analysis, has isolated the genes that create the striped pattern, and can now manipulate them. There is an activator gene, and an inhibitor gene.  We can now look at these genes and perhaps, finally, make a polkadotted tiger that can rip your face off.  Like God intended.

Check out the article on io9 here.

Picture from: here.


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