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Language Evolved from Whistling

Meet Bonnie, the whistling orangutan.  According to National Geographic News, she is giving evolutionary anthropologists something to talk about: the evolution of human language.  NG reported on a new theory: Lead author Serge Wich of the Great Ape Trust of Iowa, said orangutans in Indonesia have been seen pretending to wash clothes.  “We know they […]

Dream On, Astrobiology

An astrobiologist at Open University (UK) has classified habitable worlds into four types, even though only one of them is known to have life.  Astrobiology Magazine reported the list by Jan Hendrik Bredeh?ft: earth-like, Mars-like, Venus-like and water-worlds.  After considering all the facts, Bredeh?ft says our best bet to find extraterrestrial ecosystems is to hunt […]

Blame Hiccups on Your Inner Fish

Why do humans get hernias and hiccups?  Neil Shubin says it’s because of your inner fish.  In the Scientific American series on Darwin, the discoverer of Tiktaalik was trying to show how evolutionary theory sheds light on human anatomy.  He looked back to fish and amphibians and found insight.     “A glimpse inside the […]

How Floppy Feet Produced Marathoners

A picture of a muscle-bound furry gibbon adorns a story on Science Daily that claims, “Floppy-footed Gibbons Help Us Understand How Early Humans May Have Walked.”  The story describes how two European researchers photographed the footwork of wild gibbons to find connections to human evolution.  It turned out that gibbon footfalls are very different from […]

Selfishness and Responsibility Are Just a Game

It’s become increasingly common for evolutionists to explain human behavior in terms of games.  Another entry in this genre was published by Science Daily, which began, “‘Game theory’ is used to predict the behaviour of individuals when making choices that depend on the choices of others.  First developed as a tool for understanding economic behaviour, […]

Poison Planet Was Life’s Training Ground

Navy Seals go through “Hell Week” in their training to become warriors.  The radical hardships they endure help prepare them for missions that will call on their deepest resources of courage and determination.  These men of the elite special forces also become experts in dealing with explosives.  Can molecules do the same, with a little […]

Lizard Hair and Other Fables

In some science reports, it’s hard to tell where the data stops and the speculation begins.  In any case, evolutionary theory usually arrives in time to take credit for whatever happened in the unobservable past (cf. 08/24/2007). Bad hair joke:  Live Science wants you to blame your bad hair days on lizards.  Why?  Because according […]

Evolution in Person

For a blind watchmaker, Evolution is quite the seer.  Science articles often personify Evolution into a wizard and worker of miracles.  This is odd, considering that evolution is supposed to be an aimless, purposeless process of chance and necessity with no goals in mind. Evolution, the Learner:  Evolution learns from past environments, we are told […]

Proving the Obvious

The well-known IgNobel Prizes are awarded each year for silly, useless research projects (see Improbable Research).  There seem to be a lot of contenders that may never win the prize, but get reported anyway.  One can only wonder why the reporters aren’t putting these on the funny pages: Well duh:  Science Daily reported that serial […]

Serving Up Life on the Rocks with a Twist

We’ve heard theories life arose in a primeval soup, around hot deep-sea vents, around volcanoes and other hot spots; why would anyone consider the origin of life in ice?  A scientist in Spain has suggested life may have started in ice.  The title to the Science Daily write-up finds this to be the ultimate divination: […]

Darwin’s Prognosticators

Scientists at Rockefeller University think they can one-up Darwin.  According to Science Daily, they think they can predict evolution’s next best move.  Evolution is supposed to be aimless, so it is not clear how they think they can predict chance or decide what is best.  The dubious nature of their quest, however, is only exceeded […]

FrankenTitan Comes to Life

There’s electricity at Titan, the large moon of Saturn.  That can only mean one thing: life!  “Electricity Found on Saturn Moon–Could It Spark Life?” asked a headline on National Geographic News by Rebecca Carroll.  Visions of spark discharge tubes in a mad scientist’s lab arise in the imagination.  “Recently identified electrical activity on Saturn’s largest […]

Journalist Advises Scientists to Tell Stories

Caltech may be the egghead capital of America.  The prestigious university where Einstein and Feynman hung out may be weak in sports and arts, but is unsurpassed in science and engineering.  Caltech graduates are so adept with mathematics and advanced physics, many of them would probably have a hard time at parties telling their relatives […]

Nonsense and Nonscience

For an enterprise that prizes itself on objectivity and careful thought, science occasionally makes some outlandish claims.  Here are some things that slipped past the scientific method into the popular news media. As good as it gets:  Steve Jones says men have stopped evolving.  Better enjoy what you have, because it’s not going to get […]

A Turtle Missing Link: Are We Missing Something?

Everyone knows the iconic drawing of the parade of human evolution (see 09/23/2008 commentary); now, its turtle counterpart is making the rounds.  An article on New Scientist shows the march of progress from lizard to turtle.  The title says, “Fossil reveals how the turtle got its shell.”  Something is missing from the article, though: a […]
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