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Scientists unlock Genetic Secrets of Seahorse including its Exotic Eccentricity of Male Pregnancy

Genes that in people and other animals play a role in tooth production were mutated in seahorses and lost functionality

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Seahorse
A seahorse swims in a tank at the Underwater World Aquarium in Pattaya, nearly 145 km (90 miles) east of Bangkok, Thailand, Aug. 20, 2005. VOA
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Washington, Dec 15, 2016: Scientists have unlocked some of the genetic secrets of the weird and wondrous seahorse including its exotic eccentricity of male pregnancy.

Researchers said on Wednesday they sequenced the genome of a seahorse species for the first time and identified the genetic underpinning for certain peculiarities in this equine-looking fish group that inhabits coastal waters around the world.

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Seahorses boast a host of oddities. Males, not females, carry and give birth to babies. They swim upright, not horizontally. They have horse-like heads, tube-like snouts and no teeth. They have grasping tails to grip seagrasses and corals to avoid being swept away by currents.

Their bodies are covered in bony plates. Unlike most fish, they lack tail and pelvic fins. Their eyes work independently, letting them look forward and backward simultaneously. And they can change colors to camouflage themselves.

“They are such iconic animals, one of the examples of the exuberance of evolution,” said evolutionary biologist and genome researcher Axel Meyer of Germany’s University of Konstanz, one of the researchers in the study published in the journal Nature.

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“Their numbers are declining due to habitat destruction and harvest by humans,” added molecular biologist Byrappa Venkatesh of Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR).

The researchers analyzed the genome of the Southeast Asian tiger tail seahorse, which reaches 4 inches (10 cm) long and boasts a yellow-and-black banded tail. It had the fastest rate of molecular evolution among any fish whose genome has been studied.

Male seahorses possess a brood pouch. During mating, a female deposits eggs into the male’s pouch. The male fertilizes the eggs internally and carries them in the pouch until they hatch, releasing the fully formed offspring into the sea.

A gene present in other fish that plays a role in egg hatching underwent duplication in the seahorse and assumed a new role, helping the advent of the male pouch.

Genes that in people and other animals play a role in tooth production were mutated in seahorses and lost functionality.

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Lacking teeth, seahorses use their snout to suck in plankton and other tiny prey.

A gene involved in development of pelvic fins in other fish and legs in humans was absent in seahorses, and they lack these fins. Instead, seahorses swim by using a small fin on their back that beats rapidly, with tiny pectoral fins placed near the back of the head used for steering. (VOA)

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USA: Everything you want to know about Security Clearance; Find out here!

A security clearance allows a person access to classified national security information or restricted areas.

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Former CIA Director John O. Brennan speaks at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, March 11, 2014. President Donald Trump revoked Brennan's security clearance Wednesday. VOA
Former CIA Director John O. Brennan speaks at the Council on Foreign Relations in Washington, March 11, 2014. President Donald Trump revoked Brennan's security clearance Wednesday. VOA

U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday revoked the security clearance of former CIA Director John Brennan. We take a look at what that means.

What is a security clearance?

A security clearance allows a person access to classified national security information or restricted areas after completion of a background check. The clearance by itself does not guarantee unlimited access. The agency seeking the clearance must determine what specific area of information the person needs to access.

What are the different levels of security clearance?

There are three levels: Confidential, secret and top secret. Security clearances don’t expire. But, top secret clearances are reinvestigated every five years, secret clearances every 10 years and confidential clearances every 15 years.

All federal agencies follow a list of 13 potential justifications for revoking or denying a clearance. VOA
All federal agencies follow a list of 13 potential justifications for revoking or denying a clearance. VOA

Who has security clearances?

According to a Government Accountability Office report released last year, about 4.2 million people had a security clearance as of 2015, they included military personnel, civil servants, and government contractors.

Why does one need a security clearance in retirement?

Retired senior intelligence officials and military officers need their security clearances in case they are called to consult on sensitive issues.

Also Read: Governments Across The World Request Apple for 30,000 Device Information

Can the president revoke a security clearance?

Apparently. But there is no precedent for a president revoking someone’s security clearance. A security clearance is usually revoked by the agency that sought it for an employee or contractor. All federal agencies follow a list of 13 potential justifications for revoking or denying a clearance, which can include criminal acts, lack of allegiance to the United States, behavior or situation that could compromise an individual and security violations. (VOA)