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Sparrows Do the Long Haul Without Sleep

During their 2600-mile migrations from Southern California to Alaska, white-crowned sparrows fly day and night without sleep for days on end.  Apparently they don’t have to fly on automatic pilot.  Science Now tells about a University of Wisconsin psychiatrist who watched captive sparrows during their migratory period.  The birds seemed alert and in no way […]

Angry Evolutionist Seeks to Revive Peppered Moth Story

Michael Majerus has had it with creationists who leaped onto his 1998 book and used it for ammunition against Darwinism.  He had confessed that the simplified textbook story of the peppered moth was inaccurate, but he never meant to cast doubt on evolution.  Majerus (U. of Cambridge) is highlighted in a profile in the June […]

Spiderman No Match for Real Spider

National Geographic News took the occasion of the upcoming Spiderman sequel to investigate the superpowers of real spiders.  If you were spidy, you could: Jump 50 times your body length.  That would be like a man jumping 300 feet (the world record is 29 feet, 4.5 inches). Walk upside down on smooth surfaces, with 170 […]

Cleaners Advertise in the Fish Market

The plot of this science project seems made for Disney animation, a fishy version of Aesop’s parable of Androcles and the lion.  There are fish that will clean parasites out of the mouths and gills of their predators without getting eaten (see 01/13/2003 headline).  How these “cleaner fish” and their clients developed this risky relationship, […]

Stickleback Fish Achieve Stardom in Evolutionary Labs

According to Elizabeth Pennisi in Science June 18,1 the three-spine stickleback is being studied in 100 labs as a model of evolution.  Over the last century, the little fish has been the subject of some 2000 papers, seven textbooks, and a Nobel prize-winning thesis.  Evolutionists have been attracted to this fish because it appears to […]

Talk to Your Dog: He’s Listening

Science Now and Nature Science Update both describe a border collie named Rico that can identify 200 objects by name.  The dog exhibits the same “fast-mapping” skill of a three-year-old child learning to associate sounds with objects.  The owner calls out “dinosaur” and the dog picks up the blue dinosaur toy.  He calls “doll” and […]

Hippos Sweat Their Own Sunscreen

You know that reddish fluid on hippo skin that turns brown?  It’s not just funny colored sweat.  Japanese scientists reported in Nature1 that it acts as a sunscreen and an antibiotic.  See also the BBC News report on this finding. 1Saikawa et al., “Pigment chemistry: The red sweat of the hippopotamus,” Nature 429, 363 (27 […]

Humans and Chimps Compared

In case you had an identity crisis last time at the zoo, Current Biology can provide psychoanalysis.  The May 25 issue posted two articles side by side: one, simply entitled “Humans,”1 and the other, “Chimps.”2  Various comparisons are contrasts are drawn, including a few surprising facts, such as this statement: “Based on relative amounts of […]

Cormorant Eyes Rapidly Refocus in Dives Into Murky Water

You’re hang gliding over a lake, and you spot a fish below.  From your hovering position, you drop into a rapid, steep dive headfirst into the water.  Whoops; your eyes just went out of focus, and you lost your fish in the murky depths.  Too bad you’re not a cormorant.     Cormorants (a kind […]

Fruit Flies Fail to Exhibit Neo-Darwinism

The Neo-Darwinian Synthesis is the current reigning paradigm of Darwinian evolution.  It teaches that random genetic mutations provide the raw material of variation, and that natural selection acting on these variations produces all the complexity of life.  A corollary is that mutation is independent of selection; i.e., that mutations do not “conspire” with natural selection […]

Search for Evolutionary Trade-Offs Comes Up Empty

Husbands and wives know a lot about trade-offs, but according to Darwinian theory, all living things are in a constant tug-of-war between competing interests.  In evolutionary terms, a trade-off is a compromise between competing forces of natural selection.  For instance, “Simultaneously obtaining enough food to grow and reproduce while trying not to become someone else’s […]

Whale Flippers Inspire Aeronautical Engineers

Have you seen the bumpy flippers on humpback whales, you know, the species whose males serenade their mates?  Don’t laugh.  Scientists have found that the ungainly flippers actually have superior lift, less drag, and are less susceptible to stalling.  Engineers are imitating the whale flippers for advanced aircraft and helicopter rotors, reports EurekAlert from studies […]

Fossil Hummingbird, Arthropod Look Modern

Science announced that a rare hummingbird fossil has been found in Germany and, though assumed to be 30 million years old, is indistinguishable from living New-World hummingbirds.  This upsets the standard theory that hummingbirds evolved in the New World only.  Writing in the May 7 issue,1 discoverer Gerald Mayr said, I report on tiny skeletons […]

Moose Muzzle: A Nose for News

Curious about the enigmatic nose structure of the moose, two researchers picked up moose roadkill and decided to study those large, comical Bullwinkle faces, reports Nature.1  Lincoln Tim writes, The moose, Alces alces, is a member of the deer family, but its nasal apparatus is unlike that of any of its relatives.  The apparatus overhangs […]

How Birds Calibrate Their Navigating Maps

Three researchers tracked birds in the wild and concluded that “night-flying thrushes set their course using a magnetic compass, which they calibrate to the setting sun before takeoff each evening.”  The team of three captured thrushes in Illinois and attached small radio transmitters to them, then followed their flight for up to 1100 kilometers.  By […]
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