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Paleoanthropologists Fight Tooth and Nail

Ann Gibbons, reporter for Science, seems to enjoy watching the fights about human ancestry.  At Science Now, she began a news item about an alleged fossil human ancestor with a joke: How many paleoanthropologists does it take to locate a molar on the correct side of a fossil jawbone?  The short answer to this joke, […]

Did Martians Win the War of the Worlds?

In the H.G. Wells version, the Martian invaders with their tripod machines and death rays, wreaking havoc on Earth, were defeated by Earth bacteria.  The new scientific plot envisioned by scientists, reported on Space.com, is that the Martians had the bacteria, and invaded Earth with it to either conquer Earth life or spread it onto […]

Introducing the Stretch & Squish Theory of Evolution

Evolution is too slow if theorists rely on single point mutations, say two biologists from U. of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, who published their ideas in PNAS1 (see summary on EurekAlert).  Instead, evolution proceeds by rapidly distorting, stretching and squishing what is already there, they claim.     They claim that even Darwin knew that […]

Crows and Apes Related by Convergent Evolution

Scientists have noticed that crows have some of the same tool-making skills as apes, and in fact, are even better tool makers.  How could such vastly different animals show such similar mental skills?  Science1 explains this as another example of convergent evolution: Discussions of the evolution of intelligence have focused on monkeys and apes because […]

Haeckel Vindicated?  Parathyroid Glands from Gills?

“Human gland evolved from gills” trumpeted a BBC News science article without apology.*  It gives uncontested press to a team from King’s College that is claiming the human parathyroid glands evolved from gills.  This is claimed on the basis that they have similar functions (calcium regulation) and are located in the neck region.  Fish have […]

The Evolution of Irresponsibility

Evolutionists at the University of Minnesota have developed a theory for the evolution of impulsive behavior, reports EurekAlert.  They say that because our ancestors were hunter-gatherers, they had to grab what they could without thought of future reward or punishment: When psychologists study kids who are good at waiting for a reward, they find those […]

SETI Researcher Thinks Big: Send Internet Smut to the Aliens

Seth Shostak (SETI Institute), in an article on Space.Com, answers the question, “What do you say to an extraterrestrial?”  He said we no longer need to limit ourselves to short messages like “What hath God wrought?”,* the phrase Samuel F. B. Morse sent with the first telegraph.  The bandwidth we have available now is huge, […]

Candidates Vie for Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week

Contributions for the weekly prize sometimes come in as numerous as contestants at the Boston Marathon.  You can send in your contributions or vote on the following: Evolution as sculptor:  Sid Perkins, in Science News, submitted three entries in an article on penguin evolution: Early in penguin evolution, the bones, especially in the wings and […]

Middle Earth in Indonesia?  Fossil “Hobbits” Smash Evolutionary Ring

Here we go again: another alleged human ancestor fossil that shakes up the evolutionary family tree.  No sooner had Nature1 announced a little 1-meter tall fossil female “hominin” that the discoverers classified as Homo erectus, that the science news media like MSNBC and the BBC flew into action reporting it as “fossil hobbits”  They seem […]

How Plants Wax Their Leaves

Plants have a waxy coating on their leaves, some more and some less, a fact many gardeners may notice without much thought.  A recent paper by two plant biologists in Science1 reveals that even this seemingly ordinary feature comes about only through a complex process in plant cells.  The waxy coating, called the cuticle, is […]

Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week

This week’s entry has a little jargon in it, but if you remember what we’ve said about the tRNA synthetase family of proteins (see 05/26/2004, 07/21/2003 and 06/09/2003 headlines), you’ll get it.  Paul Schimmel and Karla Ewalt comment in Cell1 on new discoveries by Sampath et al.2 that two of these synthetases fuse together to […]

Big Pieces Missing in Darwin’s Theory, Says USC Scientist

A USC professor of gerontology has “explored a new way to look at aging that directly opposes principles set forth by Darwin in his theory of natural selection,” reports EurekAlert   (Emphasis added in all quotes).  Valter Longo’s theory of aging employs group selection instead of individual selection (see 05/31/2004 headline).  He thinks that in […]

Name-Calling at the Human Evolution Meeting

As predicted earlier this month (see 09/03/2004 commentary), Lucy’s lovers were not going to take her demotion lying down.  Proponents of Orrorin claim their 6 million year old rival walked upright millions of years before the 2-4 million year old australopithecines, and even had a gait more human-like than Lucy.  To Ann Gibbons, reporting in […]

Can Naturalism Design Anything?

Philip Ball in the Sept. 23 issue of Nature1 gave a title to a news feature that might catch a reader off guard and think he is allowing the Intelligent Design Movement to have a voice in a scientific debate: “Enzymes: By chance, or by design?”  Upon further reading, however, it is clear the debate […]

Scientists Try to Read Neandertal Minds

If dead men tell no tales, living ones certainly do.  Most of us have trouble reading one another’s minds when staring face to face, but some paleoanthropologists, with nothing but skeletons and a few stone tools and burial sites to look at, have no hesitation in reading the Neandertal mind.  Bruce Bower writes in Science […]
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