CAMBRIDGE, MASS. — Hopi E. Hoekstra is standing in the attic of Harvard’s Museum of Comparative Zoology among horns and pelts, an elephant skin under a table here, giraffe parts over there.
She is handling lumpy pieces of something that looks like molded Styrofoam and that seems entirely out of place.
One has a long handle, like a cudgel. Another is shorter.
“It looks like a little sock,” she says, holding it up for a reporter to inspect.
The sock and cudgel do belong in the museum, however, every bit as much as the antlers and skins. They are key parts of a research program that is helping unlock one of biology’s elusive secrets — how genes control complicated behavior.