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Got That?  The Complex Story of African Mammal Evolution

The article by Jean-Jacques Jaeger in the Dec. 4 issue of Nature1 is pretty upbeat about the evolutionary history of African mammals, but takes a bit of untangling to follow.     He begins confidently, “For some 40 million years, the Afro-Arabian landmass existed in splendid isolation.  A newly described fossil fauna from the end […]

Fossil Fingers Fuddle Phylogeny

Another fossil complicates the evolutionists’ picture of tetrapod origins (see Aug 9 headline).  Chinese paleontologists have reported1 a new marine reptile from Triassic strata (242 million years old, more or less).  Unexpectedly, it has extra digits (a condition called polydactyly) just like the putative ancestors of tetrapods from the earlier Devonian strata (370-354 million years […]

Adaptive Radiation: A Darwinian Mechanism Inherits the Wind

Another Darwinian assumption needs to be re-examined.  Adaptive radiation, the belief that a species isolated on an island will diverge into many species, has been hit by a hurricane.     Calsbeek and Smith, writing in the Dec. 4 issue of Nature1, studied lizards on the Bahamas after Hurricane Floyd devastated the islands.  “Islands are […]

Editorial: The Cult of the Prize

In a letter to the editor in the Dec. 4 issue of Nature1, historian Robert Marc Friedman (U. of Oslo) asks, “Is science losing out in the race for recognition?”  The race for honors, he feels, is diminishing science: Raymond Damadian’s public dispute (see “Physician launches public protest over medical Nobel” Nature 425, 648; 2003) […]

Dinosaur Family Tracks Discovered

A set of dinosaur tracks of different sizes pointing in the same direction has been found on the Isle of Skye, reports the BBC News.  It seems to indicate one adult and 10 juveniles, all of the same species, were moving together.  To Neil Clark, curator of the Glasgow Museum, these tracks tell a story […]

Vega Has a Neptune?

The BBC News and EurekAlert are pretty excited about a discovery at Vega, the sapphire-blue star that hangs overhead in summertime (from the Northern Hemisphere; Aussies see it at the horizon).  Astronomers think they see a clump of material that might be at the distance from the star similar to Neptune’s distance from the sun.  […]

Judge Rules ID Unconstitutional

Judge John E. Jones III gave his ruling on the Dover school board case in favor of the plaintiffs, as expected.  His wording against the board was strident, even accusing them of lying about their religious motives for including intelligent design (ID) as an alternative to evolution.  He spoke of the “breathtaking inanity” of the […]

Cells Find Signal in the Noise

Parents at an amusement park know the challenge of picking out their child’s voice, or even hearing their own hollering, in the noise of the crowd.  Yelling won’t help much if the rest of the crowd is yelling also.  Acoustic engineers know that raising the volume while playing back a noisy tape amplifies the noise […]

Future of Computers Lies in Harnessing DNA Circuitry

According to EurekAlert, researchers at University of Minnesota are making progress using DNA molecules for information storage and processing.  A DNA scaffolding that is being studied has the potential to hold information “1,000 times as densely as the best information processing circuitry and 100 times the best data storage circuitry now in the pipeline.” This […]

Why Workouts Work for Humans, Not Pickups

Space Daily began an article on space medicine with a thought-provoking comparison: Most machines don’t improve with use.  Old pickup trucks don’t gradually become Ferraris just by driving them fast, and a pocket calculator won’t change into a supercomputer by crunching lots of numbers.  The human body is different.  As weightlifters know, the more that […]

Wet-Marsers Win, But Life Unlikely

The discovery of evidence for past water on Mars made Science magazine’s Breakthrough of the Year.1  Most recently, the Spirit rover found goethite, an iron oxide that forms most readily in water, announced a JPL press release Dec. 13.  Although Richard A. Kerr at Science feels this second discovery on the opposite side of Mars […]

Human-Ape Gap Quadruples

Remember that old truism that humans and chimpanzees share 98.5% of their genes?  Try 94% instead.  That’s a new estimate by Matthew Hahn (Indiana U) and a team who published in a new online journal, PLoS One.1  J.R. Minkel, writing for Scientific American, said “The 6 percent difference is considerably larger than the commonly cited […]

Elaborate Quality Control Governs the Cell’s Protein-Folding Factory

If it weren’t for quality control in our cells, we’d be dead.  That’s the gist of an amazing Insight article in the Dec. 18 issue of Nature.1  “Aberrant proteins are extremely harmful to cells,” the authors begin.  How harmful?  Here is a short list of diseases that can result from improperly folded proteins or failures […]

Evolution As Assumption

51; Reasoning requires premises: axioms or truths taken for granted.  Notice the premise of reasoning stated in a recent article on Science Daily: “Because all living organisms inherit their genomes from ancestral genomes, computational biologists at MIT reasoned that they could use modern-day genomes to reconstruct the evolution of ancient microbes.”  They used an evolutionary […]

Cooking Up Human Evolution, Or a Crock?

51; What’s cooking in human evolution stories?  “Cooking is what made us human,” announced zoologist Richard Wrangham on New Scientist.  “Cooking food allowed our ancestors to evolve our big brains, the zoologist argues, and created the gender roles still observed by most people.”  The reporter apparently did not catch the embedded Lamarckism in that sentence.  […]
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