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Related subjects: Biology; Portals; Science


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Welcome to the biology portal. Biology, from the Greek words bios (life) and the suffix -logy (study of), is a branch of science concerned with the characteristics and behaviors of organisms, how species and individuals come into existence, and the interactions they have with each other and with their environment. Biology encompasses a broad spectrum of academic fields that are often viewed as independent disciplines. Together, they study life over a wide range of scales.

Blue has been chosen as the colour for this portal to emphasise that life on Earth relies on the unique chemistry of water. A photo of Darlingtonia californica, the cobra lily, was chosen as the portal icon because of this species' dependency on a humid habitat, as well as illustrating both autotrophy (in this case, photosynthesis) and carnivory. Finally, it superficially resembles young shoots, with their tips curved in, symbolising growth, a feature of all life.

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A ribosome, which is composed of two subunits, matches the sequence of nucleic acids in a strand of mRNA to a strand of tRNA. Each tRNA molecule carries with it an amino acid that is subsequently bound to the previous one, forming proteins.

A ribosome is an organelle (a subunit of a biological cell). The function of which is to assemble the twenty specific amino acid molecules to form the particular protein molecule determined by the nucleotide sequence of an RNA molecule.

One of the central tenets of biology, often referred to as the central dogma of molecular biology, is that DNA is used to make RNA, which is used to make proteins. The DNA sequence in genes is copied into a messenger RNA (mRNA). Ribosomes then read the information in this mRNA and use it to create proteins. This process is known as translation; the ribosome translates the genetic information from the RNA into proteins. Ribosomes do this by binding to an mRNA and using it as a template for determining the correct sequence of amino acids in a particular protein. The amino acids are attached to transfer RNA (tRNA) molecules, which enter one part of the ribosome and bind to the messenger RNA sequence. The attached amino acids are then joined together by another part of the ribosome. The ribosome moves along the mRNA, "reading" its sequence and producing a corresponding chain of amino acids.

Selected biography

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Clinton Richard Dawkins, is a British ethologist, evolutionary biologist and author. He is an emeritus fellow of New College, Oxford, and was the University of Oxford's Professor for Public Understanding of Science from 1995 until 2008.

Dawkins came to prominence with his 1976 book The Selfish Gene, which popularised the gene-centered view of evolution and introduced the term meme. In 1982 he introduced into evolutionary biology an influential concept, presented in his book The Extended Phenotype, that the phenotypic effects of a gene are not necessarily limited to an organism's body, but can stretch far into the environment, including the bodies of other organisms.

Dawkins is an atheist and humanist, a Vice President of the British Humanist Association and supporter of the Brights movement. He is well known for his criticism of creationism and intelligent design. In his 1986 book The Blind Watchmaker, he argued against the watchmaker analogy, an argument for the existence of a supernatural creator based upon the complexity of living organisms. Instead, he described evolutionary processes as analogous to a blind watchmaker. He has since written several popular science books, and makes regular television and radio appearances, predominantly discussing these topics. He has been referred to in the media as "Darwin's Rottweiler", a reference to English biologist T. H. Huxley, who was known as "Darwin's Bulldog" for his advocacy of Charles Darwin's evolutionary ideas. In his 2006 book The God Delusion, Dawkins contends that a supernatural creator almost certainly does not exist and that religious faith is a delusion—a fixed false belief. As of January 2010 the English-language version has sold more than two million copies and had been translated into 31 languages, making it his most popular book to date.

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Chimaeras are cartilaginous fish in the order Chimaeriformes, known informally as ghost sharks, ratfish, spookfish, or rabbitfishes. They grow up to 150 cm (4.9 ft) in length, and have elongated, soft bodies, with a bulky head and a single gill-opening. For defense, most chimaeras have a venomous spine located in front of the dorsal fin. At one time a "diverse and abundant" group (based on the fossil record), their closest living relatives are sharks, though in evolutionary terms they branched off from sharks nearly 400 million years ago and have remained isolated ever since, typically confined to deep water.


Did you know...

  • ...that there are ten times as many microbial cells in your body than there are human cells and that the sum of their genomes is 100 times greater than yours?
  • ...that a prokaryotic cytoskeleton has been found in prokaryote organisms by recent advances in visualization technology?
  • ...that the Champawat tigress and the Tsavo lions had suffered injuries that disabled them from pursuing their natural prey, leading them to become man-eaters?
  • ...that the aphid Brevicoryne brassicae has been called a "walking mustard oil bomb" due to its use of glucosinolates as a chemical defense mechanism against predators?
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  • ...that the 1984 Rajneeshee bioterror attack was the first bioterrorism attack in the United States, and one of only two confirmed terrorist uses of biological weapons to harm humans?
  • ...that Florida has over 20 official state symbols, including a state soil and a state wildflower?
  • ...that Adenovirus serotype 14 is an emerging virus, related to the common cold, that has recently caused 10 deaths in the United States, including at least one healthy young adult?
  • ...that three out of every seventy-seven rainbow runners (pictured) have five spines rather than the normal six?
  • ...that some capillaries, known as sinusoidal capillaries have gaps in them large enough for blood cells to fit through?

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