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Fire Technology Began Much Earlier Than Believed

A team publishing in Science1 claims they found evidence that humans were using fire treatment of stone tools much, much, much earlier than prior dates for cognitive abilities.  But they can’t seem to settle on just how early.  The dates vary by more than 100%.  One date, 72,000 years before the present, is about 50,000 […]

Evolution of the Knuckle Head

An evolutionary anthropologist looked at the knuckles of chimpanzees.  Then she looked at the knuckles of gorillas.  Then she looked at her own knuckles.  Conclusion: humans evolved from tree climbers, not knuckle walkers.  Her theory can be read in Live Science, based on a paper in PNAS.1     Tracy Kivell and Daniel Schmitt from […]

Protein Function: It’s All in the Fold

Most chemical reactions involve atoms or molecules bumping into one another and exchanging electrons.  Proteins, by contrast, derive their immense functional repertoire from their shapes.  Several recent studies explore the amazing potential for strength, motility and catalysis that derives from the way proteins fold. Clots:  A picture of fibrin graces an article in Science Daily.  […]

Crow Fulfills Aesop Story

The fabled intelligence of the crow has been tested, and the crows passed.  Bird and Emery tested an old Aesop fable and were amazed: In Aesop’s fable The Crow and the Pitcher, a thirsty crow uses stones to raise the level of water in a pitcher and quench its thirst.  A number of corvids have […]

Did Evolution Create Genetic Proofreading?

Protein manufacture in the cell is such a critical operation, there are numerous error-checking mechanisms the cell uses to get it right.  One of the most amazing is the careful association of DNA codons with amino acids, and the “proofreading” or “spell checking” that ensures fidelity.  How could spell checking evolve?     Science Daily […]

Does Evolution Need a Helping Hand?

New Scientist didn’t think about that question, because reporter Ewen Galloway he said, “If humans want to persuade microbes to produce vast quantities of fuels or pharmaceuticals, we may need to give evolution a helping hand.”     His article was about researchers at Harvard Medical School using computers to do “rapid evolution.”  How this […]

Systems Biology Oddly Silent About Darwin

Two papers on the rise of “systems biology” appeared in Nature last week.  Both are astounded by the complexity of the cell, but neither had anything to say about evolution, Darwin, or phylogeny – mildly surprising when the proponents of evolution keep saying that “nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.” […]

Evolution’s Guiding Hand Is Far From Obvious

A recent example of applying evolutionism to everything was seen on Science Daily and PhysOrg last week.  Some psychologists are telling us that evolution taught us to take turns.  “It’s not just good manners to wait your turn — it’s actually down to evolution, according to new research by University of Leicester psychologists.”     […]

Aliens Are Not Bodybuilders

Seth Shostak of the SETI Institute is willing to bet “dollars to Devil Dogs that any extraterrestrials we detect won’t be muscular guys with deep voices and corrugated foreheads, or even big-eyed, hairless grays.”  It all has to do with the way evolution works.     In the weekly SETI column for Space.com, Shostak opined […]

Dragonflies Are Marathon Champs

Step aside, monarch butterflies: some of your fellow insects beat your distance flying wings down.  The BBC News reported on findings by a biologist in the Maldives about dragonflies that migrate 14,000 to 18,000 km from southern India to East Africa and back – including 800 km over open sea.  How these insects can navigate […]

Stretching Out the Cambrian Explosion

“Dawn of the animals: Solving Darwin’s dilemma” is the confident-sounding title of an article about the Cambrian explosion in New Scientist.  Their solution, however, did not include finding transitional forms.  It revolved around “setting the stage” environmentally for the sudden appearance of complex animals.     Reporters Douglas Fox and Michael Le Page began by […]

Lightning Cooks Up Weird Science

Get a charge out of this headline from New Scientist.  A couple of scientists from University of Arizona studied fulgurites, the structures formed in sand by lightning strikes.  They found that they contain phosphites (oxidized phosphate molecules).  They theorized that lightning strikes could have provided phosphites which the primordial soup used to build RNA and […]

A Rat Race to Build Whiskered Robots

Some scientists at Bristol Robotics Lab are pretty proud of themselves for building a robot with whiskers.  It can seek out and identify objects using its whiskers, just like rats do.  But they should still take their hats off to their living model, because the rat’s technology is far superior.  Science Daily mentioned several facts […]

Origin-of-Life Researchers Caught Playing With Toys

A “virtual primordial soup” cooks up life in a computer program in a “toy universe,” according to reporter Leslie Mullen at Space.com.  She wrote, “The power of computer processing could one day solve the riddle of life’s origin.”     EvoGrid is “a computer creation concept that would be a digital version of the primordial […]

How the Animals Learned to Count

Any evolutionary article that begins with “How…” should be checked for Kipling-style just-so storytelling.  Characteristics to watch for include (1) fanciful speculation without evidence: i.e., “made-up” tales that provide an answer to a childish question without appeal to rigorous proof, and (2) statements made with dogmatic authority, like a parent would explain to a child […]
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