I was reading an article about evolution and blind cave fish the other day. The article was talking about how the loss of eyes by blind cave fish was not a degenerative adaptation as some creationists would have you believe (“Sure, we accept that mutations can *break* things.”), but is a positive adaptation, brought about by the expression of a mutated gene that actually suppresses the formation of the eyes. This gene is called the “sonic hedghog gene”
Sonic hedgehog gene? Say what? It turns out that some time ago a gene was discovered whose expression produced small spike-like structures in the surface of fruit flies. Because of the spikes, it was called the hedgehog gene. Later, a whole family of related genes were discovered and as each new gene was identified, it was given a name related to hedgehogs. The first few were actual types of hedgehogs, such as the “indian hedgehog gene”, but later genes were named for more famous albeit less factual hedgehogs, such as the “tiggy winkle hedgegog gene” named for the Beatrix Potter character, and finally the “sonic hedgehog gene”.
Well, that was news to me! How interesting and funny.
Now, this would have remained only an interesting fact for me, except this morning I happened to be looking at another article about scientific themed tattoos, and what should I see but a tattoo with the exact DNA sequence of the sonic hedgehog gene (and no, I didn’t recognize it, it was labeled). Go figure. I had never heard of it before and now I see it twice in 48 hours. Huh.