What did you think about the reading? I found this portion of the book especially tiring and hard to read because of its lack of a break from the science talk; a gap usually filled by Shubin’s field experience stories. Although I complained about Shubin’s frequent anecdotes in the past, I now realize that they added a more narrative quality to this book, and without them, it is like reading an oddly structured textbook. This resulted in a difficulty in keeping my focus on the book, and I often found myself staring at the tv or on the computer while attempting to read this part of the book. However, once again, it was fairly informative.
What did you learn? Thanks to embryology and anatomy I had a good background going into this part of the book. However, I did not know about the genetics, like the Hox and organizer genes. I also did not know about the research and scientists behind the discovery of these genes, something that Shubin did a good job of presenting without going too in depth about the scientists themselves. I found it pretty interesting that you could take Noggin off of one species, place it in a completely different species, and it would still grow extra back structures in the new species. I was also not aware of the importance of collagen in animals and the role of molecules in cell-to-cell communication.
What questions do you still have? The part earlier in this section about Spemann and the newt eggs got me wondering about the application of this “lasso” process on humans. Is it possible to artificially create twins by blocking off one side of the embryo from the other?