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Beavers Achieve Environmental Reprieve

In what might be considered an unexpected convergence between geology and zoology, it has been found that beaver dams influence large tracts of land both above and below ground.  “Impact of beaver dams wider than thought” announced a headline on LiveScience summarizing studies by scientists in Rocky Mountain National Park.     The dams take […]

Protein Dressing Room Has Electronic Walls

Properly folded proteins are essential to all of life.  When a polypeptide, or chain of amino acids, emerges from the ribosome translation factory on its way to becoming a protein, it looks like a useless, shapeless piece of string.  It cannot perform its function till folded into a precise, compact shape particular for its job.  […]

Hummingbirds: Small Wonders

Do you enjoy watching the world’s smallest birds, right from your backyard?  Susan Healy and T. Andrew Hurly provided interesting tidbits about them in a Quick Guide to Hummingbirds in Current Biology this week.1     There are 330 species of these small flyers noted for their aerobatics and iridescent colors.  Typically, they weigh a […]

Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week: Handy Dandy Modus Operandi

Charles G. Gross and Asif A. Ghazanfar win the prize for this gem in Science1 from a book review of The Sensory Hand by Vernon B. Mountcastle (Harvard, 2006): In one of the first systematic attempts to describe the differences between primates and other mammals, Thomas Huxley argued that the former are distinguished by virtue […]

Fitness Costs What?  Say That Again?

Good news: evolution has figured out how to make your wounds heal faster.  Bad news: the required mutation makes you go deaf.     Believe it or not, that is the story told on News@Nature.  “Deafness gene has health benefit,” wrote Alison Abbott.  “Protein from genetic mutation helps wounds to heal.”  The article treats this […]

Q: Who Fights With Supercharged Harpoons?  A: Jellyfish

Weak, transparent, limp, and drifting in the water – who would have thought these creatures possess one of the most powerful weapons in the animal kingdom?  Jellyfish and hydras have stinging cells called nematocysts that fire so fast, no one has been able to catch the action of their microscopic harpoons – till now.   […]

The Evolution of Slapstick

Some Darwinists think they have figured out the origin of laughter.  When our ape-like ancestors started walking, they found it awkward and often tripped over their feet.  Bystanding apes apparently found this humorous for some reason, and thus slapstick comedy was born.  The Times Online found this story good for some one-liners. How can this […]

What Use Is Half a Wing?

Ken Dial is at it again, trying to explain bird flight from the ground up with his own version of a Darwinian story (see 01/16/2003).  The title of his paper in BioScience1 harks back to an old criticism of Darwin’s theory: “What use is half a wing?”  Well, half a wing could be a half […]

Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week:  Astrobiology Takes on I.D.

The Center for Astrobiology at the University of Boulder is hosting a symposium today entitled, “Fossils and Genes: Exploring the Evolution of Life.”  Douglas Futuyma (State University of New York) calls Evolution the “most important theory in biology.”  By his own admission, though, it is a theory filled with paradoxes: Evolution is both a fact […]

Paper View:  Cambrian Explosion Damage Control

Like some federal official holding a press conference after a disaster, a Harvard paleontologist has tackled the unenviable job of explaining what Darwin called the most severe challenge that could be levied against his theory: the fossil record. The challenge starts with a bang...

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 […]

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, […]

Scientist Tries to Explain Away Miracle of Jesus Walking on Water

Easter is approaching.  That must mean it’s the season for skeptics to try their hand at debunking the miracles of Jesus.  The first entry this year seems to be one by Doron Nof of Florida State University who claims Jesus walked on ice, not on water.  He came up with an explanation for how parts […]

Sacrificial Love Evolved from Colored Beards

Scientific jargon is like a foreign language to most lay people, but anyone stumbling across a paper on “altruism through beard chromodynamics” in Nature1 this week must surely wonder what on earth Vincent Jansen and Minus van Baalen were talking about.  Let’s see if their introduction can explain, or if Nature has printed a grown-up […]

Reviewer Stunned by Author’s Handwaving

David Nicholls appears to have suffered whiplash from a line in a book he was reviewing in Science,1 Power, Sex, Suicide: Mitochondria and the Meaning of Life by Nick Lane (Oxford, 2006).  Though he liked the book in general, he said this about Lane’s explanation for how the first cell got its power generator: The […]
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