VIEW HEADLINES ONLY

Alien Engineering: Is It Intelligent Design?

The SETI Institute finished airing a 2-part series on the History Channel called Alien Engineering (it will be rebroadcast on Feb. 18).  The series, featuring SETI Institute scientists Seth Shostak and Frank Drake, asks the following questions: Prepare for an exercise in imagination.  Suppose that an alien spacecraft crashed in the desert and we humans […]

Treasure Trove of Rare Species Found in Papua New Guinea

There are still untouched areas on our planet.  Scientists announced the discovery of a “lost world” of new species of birds and mammals in a remote section of Papua New Guinea with no sign of trails or roads.  The news media are all abuzz with the exciting announcement: see MSNBC, National Geographic, BBC News, EurekAlert […]

How Reporters Exaggerate Darwinism

“Scientists force evolution in the lab,” announces Robert Roy Britt for LiveScience (see MSNBC copy).  A scientist forced a mutation that turned a green caterpillar into a black one.  The reader doesn’t get the rest of the story till the last line: “The next step, the researchers said, is to see if the variations do […]

Birds Sing Duets

The little wrens in your backyard are not only soloists; they sing duets.  A number of birds have been found to sing together in unison, or in antiphonal pairs.  Some alternate melodic lines in rapid-fire succession and some sing in choirs.  This was described by Susan Milius in Science News.1  One ornithologist was stunned in […]

A Whale of a SETI Tale

Disney’s Fantasia 2000 had an episode that pictured whales gliding through the air as if in outer space.  Lawrence Doyle of the SETI Institute connected whales with space in another way.  His article discussed whale language as a sign of intelligence.  Appealing to information theory and entropy, Doyle discussed how scientists deduce the syntax and […]

The Evolution of Spite

Since everything evolves, according to consensus science, why not attitudes like spite?  The BBC News reported about a University College London study on attitudes of revenge between the sexes.  They found that men seemed to get more satisfaction out of hurting foes than women.  This is all part of an evolutionary explanation for altruistic behavior […]

Observing Animals for Fun and Profit

Whether scientists watch Animal Planet for inspiration or not, they often are fixated on the wonders in the animal kingdom and want to understand and imitate them.  Here are some recent examples: Waddle of the Penguins:  Max Kurz at U of Houston enjoys watching cuddly penguins like most of us, but wonders how they waddle […]

Do Guppies Make Good Darwinian Grandmothers?

If a report on EurekAlert is right, some evolutionary biologists used lack of evidence for natural selection as confirmation for evolution.  They predicted guppies would show no evidence of a “grandmother effect” on life history after reproduction, and “that is what they found.”     The question under study is why evolution keeps aging individuals […]

Evolutionary “Arms Race” – Is Coevolution Relentless?

Camellias and the weevils that attack their seeds seem locked in conflict.  The thicker a camellia grows its protective woody covering around its seeds, the longer the feeding tube on some weevil to break through and devour.  John R. Thompson talked about such “coevolutionary arms races” in Current Biology1 and asked whether such wars can […]

Bombardier of the Sea

Creationists have made much of the bombardier beetle (#1, #2) whose firing chambers would explode if the timing and mixture of ingredients did not work perfectly together.  Now, here is a similar case in the lowly sea slug.  EurekAlert described research by Georgia State University scientists, who found that the sea slug Aplysia mixes three […]

How Blind Cave Fish Lose Color

A study on cave fish revealed that several populations can have mutations to the same gene.  A gene that produces melanin, named Oca2, was found to be mutated in two separate populations of cave fish, resulting in albinism.  This same gene can produce albinism in humans. The replicated experiment is a powerful tool for experimental […]

Undersea Christmas Lights Explained

There is a marine animal like a jellyfish that puts on one of the most dazzling light shows in nature.  Some ctenophores, or comb jellies, can send multi-colored pulses of light that radiate down their sides in a rainbow of colors.  If you’ve ever seen one of these on a TV nature show, you were […]

Marine Unicorn Tusk is a Precision Sensor

Unicorns exist – in the north sea.  Not horses, these are marine mammals, called narwhals, a kind of whale that sports a unique spiraling tooth that gives them the appearance of a unicorn.  Scientists have puzzled for centuries over what these tusks are for.  Leading theories were that males used them for joisting to defend […]

New Mammal Discovered in Borneo

Caught on camera: a cat-sized quadruped with a long, bushy tail.  See the picture on National Geographic News.  Found in Borneo’s rain forests, it is so new we don’t know what to call it yet.  The article says this is the “first new mammal species discovered on the Southeast Asian island in more than a […]

How You Tune In

Studies on rats have shown there are certain neurons that respond to changes in the background sound (see LiveScience story on MSNBC News).  We humans probably have these, too.  Rather than firing continuously, they search for changes in the auditory landscape that might be of interest: changes in pitch, loudness or duration in single sounds […]
All Posts by Date