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Cambrian Explosion Explained, or Explained Away?

James Valentine, an authority on early fossils, has just published a new 600-page book on the Cambrian explosion with the Darwinesque title, On the Origin of Phyla (U. of Chicago Press, 2004).  Stefan Bengtson (Swedish Museum of Natural History) reviewed it in the July 29 issue of Nature.1  He points out that “Darwin wisely called […]

How Cells Build Hard Parts

You have rocks in your head, and it’s a good thing, or you would die of starvation and imbalance.  Living things have need of inorganic structures for various functions.  Can you name the mineral structures in your body?  The answer is: bone, dentin, enamel and otoliths.  The last three are specific to your head.  Dentin […]

New Book Reveals China’s Cambrian Explosion

Nature July 221 has a book review about the first volume in English of the Chengjiang biota of China, where tens of thousands of soft-bodied organisms are preserved in early Cambrian strata.  The book, The Cambrian Fossils of Chengjiang, China: The Flowering of Early Animal Life by Xian-Guang Hou et al., is praised by reviewer […]

Zoo Monkey Walks Upright

For what it’s worth, there’s a story going around about a macaque in an Israeli zoo started walking on its hind legs after a near-death experience (see MSNBC News and picture).  One news source is calling it a missing link, another claiming the strange behavior is due to brain damage. This calls for a monkey […]

1400 Genes Essential to Grow a Fish

A team from MIT scanned the genome of the zebrafish and concluded there are about 1400 genes essential for embryonic and early larval development.  They did hands-on mutation experiments with 315 of these and found that mutations usually produced visible defects within 5 days that were invariably lethal.  Estimating that they had experimented on about […]

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 […]
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