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Ethiopian Missing Link: Location, Location, Location

The Associated Press reported that a new fossil discovery proves the link between two ancestral species of man, and shows the change happening right before our eyes: Fossils have long provided snapshots of the human family tree, but a new find in Africa gives scientists a kind of mini home movie showing man’s primal development. […]

Step Aside, T. Rex: Bigger Dino Found

A cache of dinosaur bones, meat-eaters bigger than Tyrannosaurus rex, has been uncovered in South America.  National Geographic News says the new species, Mapusaurus, exceeded the former heavyweight carnivore in size and agility.  All the bones in a river deposit were 100% from this one species, so “the chances they had been deposited randomly are […]

Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week:  Scientists, Learn Darwinism on TV

In Current Biology, Kenneth E. Sawin of Wellcome Trust Center for Cell Biology at Edinburgh University was interviewed about his career.  One of the questions was, “What are the big ideas for you now?”  Here is part of his answer: Another thing that I think about, which may be more ethereal, is that cell biologists […]

Astrobiology Ten Years Later: Can It Justify Its Funding?

Astrobiology just turned ten years old, but is experiencing growing pains, partly due to a starvation diet.  This “science without a subject” (as George Gaylord Simpson quipped about its predecessor, exobiology) is struggling to justify itself at the Congressional feeding trough.  Proponents tout it as the most important subject in the universe.  Why, then, is […]

How Much Can a Cell Do Without?

In an old high school game, the leader would call some unsuspecting boy to the front, put a sheet over him, and say, “Take off what you don’t need.”  Perhaps a shoe would emerge from under the sheet.  “Take off something else you don’t need,” the leader would continue, and the volume of giggling in […]

Paleoanthropologists Announce the Middle Man

In unison, the news media joined the most recent chorus over alleged fossil human ancestors: “Fossil find improves knowledge of human origins” (Live Science): “Fossils fill gap in human lineage,” (BBC News); “Ancient fossils fill gap in early human evolution” (Yahoo News); “Fossil discovery fills gap in human evolution” (MSNBC News, which adds, ‘We just […]

Few Mutational Pathways Lead to Darwinian Evolution

Mutations may not be as helpful for neo-Darwinian evolution as expected, say researchers from Harvard.  Let’s say five mutations need to occur for a bacterium to gain resistance to an antibiotic, and there are 120 ways to get these mutations.  They found that only about 10 of the pathways could be selected by natural selection.  […]

Isolated DNA Bases Are Destroyed Quickly

Without water, DNA bases fall apart quickly.  Any origin-of-life models expecting the building blocks of DNA (nucleotides) to stick around for long are going to suffer, say researchers from Oregon State University.  The molecules can enter a “dark state” in which they are highly vulnerable to UV radiation.  This idea was once considered “scientific heresy” […]

Imaginary Feathers Found on “Turkey” Dino

Last month, we reported on announcements of a dinosaur fossil with imaginary feathers (02/08/2006); at least, all the news stories mentioned feathers and some had pictures of them, but the original paper said nothing about feathers.  Now, National Geographic has done it again: “Giant Turkey-Like Dinosaur Found in Utah,” the title reads, with a picture […]

Gospel of Judas TV Documentary Sells Gnosticism to the Public

National Geographic aired its long-awaited documentary Sunday night about the discovery, restoration, and translation of a Gnostic manuscript found in 1970, the Gospel of Judas (see next entry).  The trailers had titillated audiences that this was an explosive document that would call our deepest beliefs into question.  The content of the documentary clearly gave better […]

Can You Trust the Bible Skeptics?

Ever since National Geographic announced the completion of a translation of the Gospel of Judas (a 2nd-century apocryphal gospel attributed to, but not authored by, Judas), the news media have been abuzz with speculations that it provides a clearer view of Jesus from Judas’ point of view, and that the early church leaders suppressed it.  […]

The Evolution of Irreducible Complexity

It must be open season on Intelligent Design (ID).  Yesterday, Nature tried defense with a new missing link claim (04/06) and today, Science is printing a story to tackle ID’s offensive line, irreducible complexity (see U of Oregon press release and EurekAlert).  The Discovery Institute immediately jumped to the match, with Mr. Irreducible Complexity himself, […]

Fish-o-pod ‘Missing Link’ Discovered: Media Goes Nuts

Evolutionists could hardly feel more relieved.  Just when anti-evolutionary sentiment is on the rise, a new fossil has been announced that gives pro-evolutionists a missing link to run up the fishpole, and boy, did the media salute.  Neil Shubin (U of Chicago) and two partners found a “tetrapod-like fish” fossil on a Canadian island.  It […]

Experimental Biologists Look to Animals for Inspiration

Whether insects, fish, birds or mammals, animals have a lot to teach scientists and engineers.  Here are some recent stories that begin to answer, “How do they do that?” with hopes that humans might be able to mimic their feats. Hard sponges:  Aimee Cunningham in Science News (03/25/2006; 169:12, p. 184) described the astonishment Joanna […]

The Class Struggle: Students Challenge Teachers Over Evolution

Teaching uncooperative teenagers has always been challenging, but some of today’s biology teachers may feel nostalgic for the days when rowdy students whacked the bulletin boards with real spitballs instead of verbal ones.  Now, dodging student challenges to evolution is getting downright exhausting.  Students used to just accept what the teacher said about the subject […]
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