FUN: What's in a Name?

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Science  01 Feb 2002:
Vol. 295, Issue 5556, pp. 771
DOI: 10.1126/science.295.5556.771c

Fear of intimacy, celibate, heartless, numb, drop dead. Highlights from a Cosmo article on today's dating scene? Maybe, but they're also the names of fruit fly genes. Mixing entomology with etymology, FlyNome explicates the stories behind these and some 80 other quirky monikers for Drosophila genes. The curator of this whimsical collection is postdoc Christopher Yohn of the Skirball Institute in New York City. Although some gene names are straightforward, others display cheeky creativity, drawing on sources as varied as The Wizard of Oz, the foul-mouthed brats on South Park, and the Bible. Flies with a mutated form of the ken and barbie gene, for instance, lack external genitalia, just like the famous anatomically incorrect dolls. And fear of intimacy doesn't signal emotional distance, but refers to the failure of two types of cells to associate during development of the gonads.

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