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Do Guppies Make Good Darwinian Grandmothers?

If a report on EurekAlert is right, some evolutionary biologists used lack of evidence for natural selection as confirmation for evolution.  They predicted guppies would show no evidence of a “grandmother effect” on life history after reproduction, and “that is what they found.”     The question under study is why evolution keeps aging individuals […]

Bombardier of the Sea

Creationists have made much of the bombardier beetle (#1, #2) whose firing chambers would explode if the timing and mixture of ingredients did not work perfectly together.  Now, here is a similar case in the lowly sea slug.  EurekAlert described research by Georgia State University scientists, who found that the sea slug Aplysia mixes three […]

How Blind Cave Fish Lose Color

A study on cave fish revealed that several populations can have mutations to the same gene.  A gene that produces melanin, named Oca2, was found to be mutated in two separate populations of cave fish, resulting in albinism.  This same gene can produce albinism in humans. The replicated experiment is a powerful tool for experimental […]

Undersea Christmas Lights Explained

There is a marine animal like a jellyfish that puts on one of the most dazzling light shows in nature.  Some ctenophores, or comb jellies, can send multi-colored pulses of light that radiate down their sides in a rainbow of colors.  If you’ve ever seen one of these on a TV nature show, you were […]

Eyes on the Prize: Science Sees Gold in Biomimetics

A fly eye made the cover of Science this week.1  It’s not that the compound eye is interesting to entomologists; MSNBC News picked up on the real message: “Animal eyes inspire new technology – Researchers learn optics lessons from biology.”  The cover story is about biomimetics, or reverse-engineering nature.  Scientists are looking for ways to […]

Spider Evolution: A Theory in Crisis

Sea spiders look so similar to land spiders, everyone would have thought they were related.  They differ, however, in several significant ways, said Graham Budd and Maximilian Telford in Nature:1  ’Their bodies are so slender that the digestive systems and gonads are squeezed into their limbs; they possess a forward-pointing proboscis with a terminal mouth; […]

Fossil Brachiopod Shows Soft Part Details

American and British paleontologists described in Nature1 the discovery of nearly complete brachiopods with calcified soft parts intact.  They exhibited intricate details never before seen in fossils of these organisms, sometimes called lamp shells.  Brachiopods, a type of marine animal that attached itself to the sea floor with a pedicle or stalk, were very abundant […]

Sharks and Beavers Inspire Humans

Animals never cease to amaze us with their clever solutions to problems that plague human technology.  EurekAlert told of work being done by the Society for Experimental Biology to emulate shark skin as a self-cleaning surface for boats; National Geographic News has pictures of the new product, and a comparison with shark skin.  The navy […]

Sponge Bobs Upward in Respect

The simplest group of multicellular animals, the sponges, is not so simple.  “Researchers have long regarded sponges as the most primitive form of animal life,” wrote Helen Pilcher in Nature;1 “At first glance, sponges seem simple.  They have no gut, no brain, no obvious front or back, left or right.  Adults pump water through a […]
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