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Fish Feet: Can Evolution Add by Subtraction?

How did fish grow feet?  One would think that feet require adding a lot of new parts: bones, muscles, nerves, blood vessels, and additional supporting tissues.  Each of those would require genetic instructions and changes to embryonic development.  One evolutionist, however, feels that switching genes off paved the way to the invasion of land.  The […]

Can the Earth Thwart Darwinism?

Microbes were all set to evolve into complex life, but the ocean held them back.  That seems to be the thinking of Dr. Simon Poulton of Newcastle University.  “Toxic seas may have been responsible for delaying the evolution of life on Earth by 1 billion years,” PhysOrg reported.  That seems to imply that it would […]

World’s Strongest Animal Discovered

Scientists at the Technical University of Denmark announced the world’s strongest animal.  The strength of this animal is 10 to 30 times that of any other species.  Before revealing what it is, here are some additional hints: It is the most abundant multicellular animal on earth. It has the world’s strongest muscles, and outperforms man-made […]

More Pow in the Cambrian Explosion

Scientists have found more fossil evidence for sudden emergence of animal body plans in the Cambrian strata.  Two papers in Geology discuss evidence on opposite sides of the world.  One team found bryozoans in Mexico 8 million years older than the record-holders in China,1 and another scientist found diverse echinoderms in Spain dating from the […]

Archer Fish Sees Clearly Up and Down

The archer fish, which lives in mangrove swamps and rivers, is able to spit insects off leaves above the water with remarkable accuracy (09/30/2002, 09/07/2004, 10/10/2006).  Scientists have been fascinated by this ability because in order for the fish to calculate the trajectory of its missiles, it needs to take into account both chromatic aberration […]

Blind Fish Lead the Blind

Imagine miniature subs that can negotiate tight spaces or murky waters in the dark.  Meet Snookie: a device created by researchers at the University of Technology Munich, who took their inspiration from blind cave fish.     The report on Live Science says that the blind Mexican cave fish Astyanax mexicanus is born with eyes […]

Biomimetics: Science for Now

Do you want science that makes a difference in our lives?  Look at real plants and animals with real solutions to practical problems.  That’s where researchers are making amazing discoveries with practical spinoffs. Shellfish materials:  Strong, lightweight structures are coming, thanks to the imitation of oysters and shellfish.  PhysOrg reported that researchers at the University […]

What Good Is Natural Selection without Progress?

Three papers recently claim to have seen natural selection.  None of them, however, identified a functional advantage that would have tied changes to novel benefits that could improve a species.  Yeast:  “New Type of Genetic Variation Could Strengthen Natural Selection,” trumpeted a headline in Science Daily.  It was about a study of two varieties of […]

Life Leads the Way to Invention

Here’s a factoid for the party: a cell is 10,000 times more energy-efficient than a transistor.  PhysOrg tells us that “ In one second, a cell performs about 10 million energy-consuming chemical reactions, which altogether require about one picowatt (one millionth millionth of a watt) of power.”  This and other amazing facts lead to an […]

Scientists Divine Deep Time in Dead Fish

Scientific experiments can certainly take on a wide variety of methods, from recreating the atmosphere of Titan to testing a drug on a genetic disease.  But if educators want to encourage students to become scientists, they had best keep silent about “some very unpleasant experiments” at the University of Leicester reported by the BBC News.  […]

What Value Do Evolutionary Explanations Provide?

We want value for our science dollars.  We know artists are into self-expression, but scientists need to offer more than just artistic prose: they are supposed to be in the knowledge generation business.  So we expect to gain one of two things from their scientific explanations.  One, we would like to gain practical knowledge that […]

Tiktaalik Demoted to Has-Been

The highly-publicized tetrapod missing link or “fish-a-pod” that made headlines in 2006 (05/03/2006) has been dethroned by new findings in Poland.  Trackways said to be 18 million years older than Tiktaalik, showing digits and alternating steps, were announced today in Nature.1  The authors said, “They force a radical reassessment of the timing, ecology and environmental […]

Evidence for Evolution, or for Uncontroversial Variation?

Science papers and articles often announce promising new evidence for evolution.  To distinguish Darwinian evolution from creation, though, requires evidence of a certain magnitude.  The staunchest Biblical creationist allows for a great deal of variation within kinds.  When evidences for evolution are announced, do they rise to the level of change Darwin theorized – like […]

Clever Animals Inspire Lookers – And Engineers

Incredible animals provide endless delights with their antics.  Even microorganisms are capable of amazing feats.  Sometimes these living things inspire inventors, too. Coconut octopus:  Tool use was supposed to be a late marker of primate intelligence as chimpanzees were evolving upward to manhood.  That’s so 1890.  Now that we know crows can use tools (05/26/2009), […]

Taking Inspiration from Nature

In the previous entry, Darwin inspired some geologists, even though he was wrong.  Here are some news stories showing nature inspiring engineers with wonders right under their noses. Aerodynamic seed:  A plant in Java has seeds that are perfect gliders.  The BBC News said of the Alsomitra vine: “The seeds, which are produced by a […]
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