Were Dinosaurs Gasping for Air?
September 29, 2005
A news story on CNN claims that “the air contained only about 10 percent oxygen at the time of the dinosaurs.” It climbed to 23% by 40 million years ago, then dropped to its current level at 21%, said the researchers. They feel that the rise of oxygen “almost certainly contributed to evolution of large […]
Evolutionists Finally Figure Out the Eye Well, Partly
September 22, 2005
As if tackling Darwin’s worst nightmare with gusto, evolutionary biologists published a paper in Current Biology1 about the evolution of the eye – at least the lens. Though the paper is restricted to a discussion of genes involved in making the crystallin proteins that make up the lens, EurekAlert announced this as “Insight into our […]
Big Guys Finish First, Except in Drought
September 21, 2005
Nigel Williams tried to explain in Current Biology1 why “size matters” among marine iguanas in the Galapagos Islands: the vectors of natural and sexual selection don’t always line up. Females appear to like the big males when times are good, but when drought comes, the smaller dudes do better. There’s a difficulty with […]
Reader Project: Calculate the Speed of Plant Package Delivery
September 9, 2005
Get out your pencil and hand calculator. A team of Swedish and French scientists measured the velocity of a message traveling on the intraplant internet (see 08/12/2005, 11/09/2004, 10/04/2004 and 07/13/2001 entries). Publishing in Science,1 they believe they have witnessed a signaling molecule, in the form of a messenger-RNA (mRNA; see yesterday’s entry) moving through […]
Bird Brains: No Evolutionary Pattern in Size
September 7, 2005
A scientist went looking for evolutionary patterns in bird brain size, but his chart shows data all over the map. Fahad Sultan (U of Tuebingen, Germany) measured brains in a wide variety of birds, and published his results in Current Biology.1 How does brain size and design influence the survival chances of a species? A […]
Chimpanzee Genome Published: Is There a Monkey in Your Genes?
September 1, 2005
Nature’s cover story September 1 is about the publication of the chimpanzee genome. Evolutionists are digging through the data for evidence of human common ancestry. Have they found it? The results, as usual, are mixed: MSNBC News states the situation concisely: “Genome comparison reveals many similarities – and crucial differences.” Here is the gist of […]
Darwins Finches Evolve Back and Forth
August 24, 2005
What’s new on the Galápagos? For those needing an update on Darwin’s famous finches, the researchers who have spent the most time studying them – Peter and Mary Grant (Princeton) – wrote a Quick Guide in Current Biology1 in question-and-answer format. We’ll skip the introductory material about how the birds got named after Darwin, and […]
You Otter Hair How Otters Keep Warm
August 22, 2005
While on a sabbatical exploring Isle Royale National Park, John Weisel (U of Pennsylvania) decided to collect hair from various mammals. He found otter fur to be particularly interesting, says a press release from U of Penn Health System. Since otters don’t have a layer of fat, he wondered, how do they keep warm in […]
Do Emperor Penguins Know the Meaning of True Love?
August 19, 2005
The nature film sensation March of the Penguins is capturing the public imagination because of its portrayal of emperor penguins in almost anthropomorphic visions. Strutting upright in their feathery tuxedos, these Antarctic seabirds seem almost human: they love, they walk, they sacrifice, they grieve over the loss of a chick, they endure hardship bravely, they […]
From Emperors to Monarchs….
August 19, 2005
If lion is king, and penguin is emperor, who would have thought a dainty insect would be monarch? EurekAlert posted a story earlier this month too good to pass up: monarch butterflies follow the light – ultraviolet light – to their breeding grounds. Scientists at Hebrew University, working with monarchs in a specially-designed flight simulator […]
Fossil Brachiopod Shows Soft Part Details
August 18, 2005
American and British paleontologists described in Nature1 the discovery of nearly complete brachiopods with calcified soft parts intact. They exhibited intricate details never before seen in fossils of these organisms, sometimes called lamp shells. Brachiopods, a type of marine animal that attached itself to the sea floor with a pedicle or stalk, were very abundant […]
What Do You Get When You Cross a Lion with a Tiger?
August 10, 2005
A liger, that’s what. No kidding: you get a big cat with a mane and faint stripes that likes to play in the water. National Geographic News has a special article, with photos, about ligers. This is offered without much comment, just for those who want to learn about something unusual in the animal kingdom, […]
Do Butterflies Evolve Via Team Stripes?
July 25, 2005
A BBC News story is claiming that butterflies split into competing teams when differences in their wing patterns emerge. Based on a paper in Nature,1 this is supposed to be an example of a rarely-observed mechanism for speciation, called reinforcement: in this case, “These wing colours apparently evolved as a sort of ‘team strip’, allowing […]
Lung Link to Dinos and Birds Disputed
July 21, 2005
Carl Wieland at AIG has given a creationist response to the widely-publicized claim last week that dinosaurs breathed like birds (see Live Science and News@Nature). Creationists are good for evolutionists. Otherwise, who would keep their rampant speculations in check? If evolutionists were really interested in truth, they would welcome debate over interpretations of evidence from […]
Sharks and Beavers Inspire Humans
July 16, 2005
Animals never cease to amaze us with their clever solutions to problems that plague human technology. EurekAlert told of work being done by the Society for Experimental Biology to emulate shark skin as a self-cleaning surface for boats; National Geographic News has pictures of the new product, and a comparison with shark skin. The navy […]