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Walking Tall: Earth Pushed Hominids Out of Africa

Why did humans evolve from stoop-shouldered apemen into tall, proud, big-brained Europeans?  Africa pushed them out.  That seems to be the idea behind a story spreading throughout the popular science media, such as on Science Daily, entitled, “Geologists Say ‘Wall Of Africa’ Allowed Humanity To Emerge.”  The idea is based on circumstantial evidence that, according […]

Blast Your Way to Evolutionary Progress

The cartoony slogan “Evolve or perish” garnered support from a new story about evolution.  Dave Mosher on Live Science shamelessly titled his article “Catastrophic impacts made life flourish,” describing the theory by Birger Schmitz [U of Lund, Sweden] that the Ordovician extinction was caused by a meteor impact.  Out of the wreckage, a plethora of […]

Darwin Fish Pokes ID in the Eye

Some science news outlets are having an eye-poking battle against intelligent design with the latest eye-popping claim about eye evolution.  It seems to have started in Australia on Science Alert, where some exceptionally-preserved placoderm fossils were found: The palaeobiologist discovered that unlike all living vertebrate animals – which includes everything from the jawless lamprey fish […]

Walking Upright Is Not Just for Pregnant Females

Pregnant women have enhanced curvature of the lower spine, which helps them support their babies during pregnancy.  Obviously, this must have evolved that way because emerging apes rising to their feet had different physiological needs.  Most science news reports are echoing this theme from a paper in Nature1 without any qualms about the Lamarckism or […]

Origin of Life: Food for Queazy Thought

New theories of the origin of life seem to come and go like fashion trends.  A biochemist at University of California at Santa Barbara (Helen Hansma) put out a new plot line about biomolecules forming between the protective flakes of mica.  This was all Dave Mosher at Live Science (see reprint on MSNBC) needed to […]

Magicians through the Looking Glass

A leading origin-of-life researcher passed away last month: Leslie Orgel.  Gerald Joyce paid him tribute in Nature.1  Orgel worked closely with other famous origin-of-life people like Stanley Miller, and was a leader in the “RNA world” scenario for the origin of life.  Joyce appreciated his rigid empiricism: Although Orgel was a theoretician, he always demanded […]

SETI Researcher Writes Children’s Poem

For a feature called “SETI Thursday” at Space.com, Dr. Laurence Doyle has written a childish poem about how life brought itself up from nothing to galactic explorers.  It begins, “When the Earth was young, and the Moon nearby, in a cometary sea, prokaryotic thoughts arose, what fun it is to be!”  The idea of evolving […]

Males on “Evolutionary Overdrive”

A press release from University of Florida claims males evolve faster than females, and suggests a reason.  It’s because males are simpler.  Some quotes: The observation that males evolve more quickly than females has been around since 19th century biologist Charles Darwin noted the majesty of a peacock’s tail feather in comparison with the plainness […]

Monkey See, Monkey Rationalize

It’s a quirk of English that rational and rationalize have opposite meanings.  Be that as it may, the latter may have evolved into to the former, according to a story in the New York Times.  A monkey study using children as control subjects seems to indicate that Capuchin monkeys, like us, occasionally rationalize bad choices. […]

Myths from Hell

Many speak of God’s green earth and rejoice in its beauty, but James Trefil tells us it was born from hell.  In his article in Astronomy (Dec 2007), entitled, “Earth’s Fiery Start” he spoke with eyewitness confidence: Earth hasn’t always been a green and pleasant place.  In fact, our planet’s infancy was a violent, chaotic […]

Crystal Power Is Not Evolution

What would Max Planck think?  The Institute named after him put out a press release, “Evolution in the Nanoworld,” that claims that synthetic molecules can organize themselves by an evolutionary principle of selection: The automatic molecular assembly and selection steps exhibited by the molecules, which start as random mixtures, demonstrates a fundamental step in the […]

Machiavellian Monkeys Made Us Compassionate

Love, loyalty, patriotism – all the qualities that imbue a romantic novel with soul – came from Rhesus monkeys acting badly.  This is the belief of Dario Maestripieri, a primatologist and Associate Professor in Comparative Human Development and Evolutionary Biology at the University of Chicago, according to an article in Science Daily.     Dr. […]

Walking Upright Was a Birth Defect

What’s so big about walking upright?  A single birth defect in a human ancestor 21 million years ago could have made it all possible, according to Dr. Aaron Filler (Cedars Sinai Medical Center), a specialist in the spine.     According to EurekAlert, he proposes that in the “hominiform hominoid” Morotopithecus, a sibling was born […]

Dust Became Knowledge

The Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week award goes to an Associated Press article reporting on a finding from the Spitzer Space Telescope.  It began in a very matter-of-fact manner, claiming that the one of the biggest questions of philosophy is being answered by dust.   Astronomers have taken a baby step in trying to […]

Darwin Saves Junk, Makes Treasure Out of It

The Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week award goes to a press release from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, which began by personifying Evolution1 as a tinkerer in its own junkyard:   Evolution has mastered the art of turning trash to treasure – though, for scientists, witnessing the transformation can require a bit of patience.  […]
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