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Protein Springs Keep Crabs Happy

Crabs and crayfish contain “exquisite” protein springs around their mouth parts that enhance motion, signaling, and sensing of their environment, Science Daily reported, about work done at the University of Cambridge.     The protein involved, called resilin, is almost perfectly elastic.  “The exquisite rubbery properties of resilin are known to be put to use […]

Cuttlefish Inspire Reflective Screens

“Cuttlefish are masters of disguise, able to change their skin color in less than a second to hide from predators or draw in prey for the kill,” begins an article on MSNBC News.  A team at MIT, fascinated with the physics of this capability, tried to imitate it.  They found they could electrically control the […]

Better Solar Cells with Diatoms

Let’s start with the operative quote before the subject matter: “Nature is the engineer, not high tech tools.  This is providing a more efficient, less costly way to produce some of the most advanced materials in the world.”  OK, now the subject: how to build better solar cells, by imitating diatoms.  See the story on […]

Evolutionary Explanations: Substance, Seasoning, or Storytelling?

A scientific theory should explain why certain phenomena in nature are the way they are.  This layman’s view, though simplistic, expects that a theory should also predict new phenomena before they are observed.  In many science reports on evolution, however, one finds evolutionary theory tacked on as an explanation after the fact, when the theory […]

Envying the Tooth of the Sea Urchin

Did you know the lowly sea urchin has a tooth?  It’s not just any tooth: it’s “a remarkable grinding tool,” according to a team of international scientists.  They even used the word “exquisite” in the title of their paper in PNAS.1  Humans might benefit from knowing more about this tool.  “The improved understanding of these […]

Fossil Fish Pushes Evolutionary Time

Quick!  When was the Age of Fishes?  If you said “Devonian,” you were correct according to the textbooks and museums, but where’s your evidence?  Look at this diorama in the Smithsonian depicting the seas of the Silurian, the period preceding the Devonian: crinoids, trilobites, corals and nautiloids, but no fish.  It may be time to […]

Is a Hippo a Pig or a Whale?

Two teams of evolutionists are having a spat over whale evolution.  Thewissen and team (Northeastern Ohio U) say the hippo is close to the pig, but Jessica Theodor (U of Calgary) and Jonathan Geisler (Georgia Southern U) say it’s in the whale family tree.  Their arguments and counter-arguments were published in Nature last week.1  Science […]

Amazing Fossils: Do They Help Darwin?

Some remarkable fossils have been found recently.  According to the reports, scientists are not sure what to make of them, even though evolutionary language is liberally applied to the interpretation. Octopus:  The earliest fossil octopus is 100% octopus.  A rare well-preserved octopus fossil, as unlikely as finding a fossilized sneeze according to Live Science, shows […]

Using Engineering to Prove Evolution

David Deamer smiling at a tide pool: is there an evolutionary connection?  The picture accompanies an article on Science Daily about Deamer’s latest thinking on the origin of life.  He’s going to share his ideas at a symposium in Oakland, California, organized by Eugenie Scott of the NCSE. According to Deamer, life began with complex […]

A Tale of Two Sites: Moby Dog and The Claw

Discoveries portrayed as major evolutionary missing links were announced this week.  One is a putative transitional form from land animal to whale, and one is a Cambrian trilobite-like creature said to be evolving the first claw. Moby dog:  The current evolutionary scenario for the origin of whales is that they evolved from dog-like hoofed animals […]

Is Natural Selection Losing its Appeal?

Some recent science reports sound like they are ready to cast Darwin’s key phrase natural selection overboard, or at least demote it from its leading role in evolution.  These articles each hint that long-held beliefs are being challenged. Make room:  Science Daily asked, “Natural Selection Not The Only Process That Drives Evolution?”  Scientists at Uppsala […]

Biology Now Includes Fluid Dynamic Construction

There’s an old legend that Tibetan monks built a wall by levitating heavy stones with sound by beating their drums and gongs.  Something not quite so fantastic but still amazing is done by cells in the embryo.  Scientists have filmed zebrafish embryos using beating cilia to build little stone structures that they use for balance. […]

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 […]

Fish and Reptiles Converge on Magnetic Navigation

Two very different kinds of animal both have outstanding ability to navigate by earth’s magnetic field: salmon and sea turtles.  A new hypothesis by scientists at University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, published in PNAS,1 suggests that the young are “imprinted” with their local magnetic field signature at birth. From a navigational perspective, some […]

Thanks to Clam Design, Stronger Materials Are Coming

Scientists at Lawrence Berkeley National Labs have produced a lightweight composite material 300 times stronger than its constituents.  How?  By taking inspiration from clams.     The team, writing in Science,1 described nacre, the shiny mother-of-pearl found inside clam shells.  Because of the way it sandwiches crystalline aragonite with layers of protein (07/26/2004), nacre resists […]
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