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Trilobites Found in Fool’s Gold: What Does It Mean?

Trilobites are icons of the Cambrian and Ordovician periods.  When thousands are found in beds over a wide area encased in pyrite, with no sign of decay, what does it mean?  A team publishing their findings in Geology suggests it means rapid burial.1  Here’s the abstract from their paper: Pyritization of soft tissues is extremely […]

How the Octopus Built Its Own Brain for Better Fishing

The octopus was glad to see fish evolve, but needed a bigger brain to catch them, so it evolved one of the most complex brains in the animal kingdom.  Is that the gist of this story in the Science blog Origins?  Greg Miller wrote in the style of a children’s storybook: Cephalopods—octopuses, squid, and their […]

Nature’s Designs Are Engineers’ Finds

Nature is a treasure trove of technology.  Though engineers have garnered inspiration from nature since the Wright brothers and before, it seems that in recent years there has been a gold rush to follow nature’s lead. Wet glue:  Worms may not be very inspiring to most people, but Science News reported that scientists at the […]

Does Evolution Produce Winners?

Referees at UCLA are calling the shots in an unusual sport: the evolution game.  Mammals, birds and fish swept the medals.  The losers?  crocodiles, alligators, and a “living fossil” reptile called the tuatara.  According to the judges, the more the biodiversity, the more a group wins points; the more their species go extinct or remain […]

Evolution of Foraminifera Questioned

A long, long time ago, primitive sea creatures called foraminifera lived on the ocean bottom.  One day, some of them invaded a new ecological niche: the ocean surface.  There, they became part of the plankton zoo.  When the catastrophe that wiped out the dinosaurs occurred, most of the surface foraminifera died.  But they recovered in […]

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 […]

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 […]
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