Irish Science Heroes – William King


Video by Claire Riordan, Scientific Engagement Associate at CÚRAM .

In the latest of our series of Research Videos, Dr. John Murray (Lecturer in Palaeontology in the Discipline of Earth & Ocean Sciences) and Prof. Heinz Peter Nasheuer (Professor of Biochemistry) introduce the groundbreaking work of a true Irish Science Hero, William King.

In 1849, William King joined Queen’s College Galway (now NUI Galway) as its first Professor of Geology, publishing more than 70 papers and the establishment of a museum in his time there.

King and Paper
Prof. William King and his groundbreaking 1864 paper ‘The Reputed Fossil Man of The Neanderthal‘.

William King is best known however, as the first person to name a new extinct group of humans, Homo neanderthalensis, more commonly known as Neanderthals. His study of a  Continue reading “Irish Science Heroes – William King”

Vision, by Dr. Kieran Ryan of VISICORT

In the fourth of our weekly series of articles by NUI Galway researchers, Dr. Kieran Ryan, VISICORT Project Manager, writes about ‘Vision‘ and VISICORT’s research into improving corneal transplant outcomes by preventing rejection.

Eyes from around the animal kingdom. From L-R: Hoverfly compound eye; Jumping spider anterior eyes; Cat’s eyes with distinctive slit-like iris. (Images from Wikimedia Commons)

Eyes are the organs of vision, detecting light and converting it into electro-chemical impulses in neurons. Eyes come in ten different forms, with the simplest types of ‘eyes’, merely eyespots, detecting whether the immediate surroundings are light or dark (photoreception).

Continue reading “Vision, by Dr. Kieran Ryan of VISICORT”

EVOLUTION: Jurassic Park meets Ice Age

With the effects of global warming revealing more and more well-preserved Mammoth remains under the Siberian permafrost, the possibility of cloning a Mammoth seems closer than ever.

At least one team of scientists are analysing Mammoth tissue samples for whole cells with intact nuclei, to provide sufficient DNA needed to clone this extinct species. This procedure would be similar to that famously used to clone Dolly the sheep the first cloned mammal.

Crucially, though, there is an abundant supply of sheep living in Scotland to provide calls and surrogate mothers to whereas the mammoth has been extinct for about 4,000 years. DNA degrades over time, even in perfect lab conditions, so finding a completely intact genome (a species’ entire DNA sequence) is extremely unlikely. However, gaps in one individual’s genome could be patched up with sequence from another’s partial sequence, however this would be a painstaking and probably error-ridden process.

The Mammoth’s closest living relative is the Asian elephant, which could be used to attempt to produce a viable embryo with the patched-up Mammoth DNA and bring the baby Mammoth to term, probably around 2 years later, which is an elephant’s typical gestation period.

The ethical questions surrounding this type of “de-extinction” cloning, focuses on the effort and resources needed to bring an extinct species back, when so many extant species are already on the brink of extinction, and the possibility that this technology could be used to bring back other human species, such as Neanderthals.

More information can be found in the recent National Geographic “Reviving Extinct Species” special.