September 29 – Mutation Day

Posted on September 29, 2015

If you were a teenage mutant ninja turtle, which would you celebrate – the anniversary of your birth as a perfectly ordinary baby turtle, or the anniversary of the mutation that caused you to be a smart, capable ninja?

I'm guessing the latter...
Well, today is the day to celebrate! In the fictional world of TMNT, today is the anniversary of Splinter's and the four Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles' mutation.

Fans are all over this, creating art and videos and parties.

Of course, I am all over an enticing name like “Mutation Day” – I just want to wallow in the biology of it!

A mutations is a permanent change in the DNA of a plant, animal, or other organism. The change can be caused by damage to DNA, damage to RNA, a copying error, or from the bits of DNA being inserted into or deleted from a strand.

The mutation that caused the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to be more human (and much more ninja) than the average pet turtle is, of course, impossible. To make changes that enormous in any one animal would require thousands of mutations – not just one!

Good...or bad?

A lot of mutations don't have any effect, so they are pretty much neutral as far as the mutated creature goes.

On the other hand, many mutations have a harmful effect, and some have a good effect. It all depends on specifically where on the DNA or RNA strand the change or copying error is as well as the nature of the change or error.

If there were no such thing as mutation,
life on Earth might be no more complex
than this. ^
Overall, if you look long-term and big-picture, mutations are good, because they are the raw materials of evolution. If there was no such thing as mutation, you and I would definitely not be here discussing mutations – the only life on Earth would be super simple one-celled creatures.

I love the recipe allegory Mr. Andersen uses to explain about mutations! Check it out.

To learn more about mutations, check out this lesson plan or thisBrain POP.

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