making the world more colorful

For today’s Welt I wrote about colorblind monkeys – scientists cured them of their colorblindness with gene therapy. “Cured” is kind of a silly word in this case. The males of this species naturally don’t see red and green, so it’s not like they have something wrong with them that needs to be fixed. So, more accurately: Scientists gave monkeys a gene for a pigment they didn’t have, and now the little guys see colors like we do.

dalton

Aww, lookit the cute li’l monkey doing the test! He’s supposed to find the pink dots among the gray dots. If he gets it right he gets a drop of grape juice.

The monkeys in the study are squirrel monkeys. Isn’t that a cute name? It sounds tiny and adorable, and like it would enjoy hopping around in trees, which I think is a fairly accurate description of the species. So, guess what the German word for them is? Totenkopfaffen. Death’s-head monkey. Yipe.

Progress update: I actually wrote this story in German, rather than writing in English and translating. And it ran in TWO newspapers today. Woo. I’ve mostly written for Die Welt so far, but the science section also supplies stories for Welt am Sonntag (the Sunday edition)  and Berliner Morgenpost

Photo Credit: Neitz Laboratory

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2 Responses to making the world more colorful

  1. They can try it on my real wife. Mai is red-green colorblind, which is pretty rare in women (especially ones who paint)! She used to think that “green” traffic lights were called that as a matter of social convention but were actually white, to save money.

  2. Helen says:

    Wow! That’s really rare!